Holy cow it’s been 6 months? It seems like it’s only been a few weeks but yet again it seems like I’ve been here forever. I think time just kinda stopped for me as soon as I arrived and the world’s been spinning without me. I have a hard time believing that this time next year I won’t be wearing a nametag anymore. It gives me just that much more motivation to make this next 12 months really count. I was telling Mama in my other e-mail that it’s crazy to think I’ve been here for so long and I still don’t feel like I’ve made a difference yet. I think I came here wanting to have a lasting impact on the people here, although I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting to have happen. I look back on the past 6 months and don’t feel like I’ve actually made all that much of a difference. That’s not to say it hasn’t been worth it or I can’t see a change, because I certainly see everything differently now. My view of the world, the people in it, including myself, and of my Savior has changed a lot. I’ve witnessed many miracles while here and I feel like a different person because of it. So I know that at least I will have converted myself. I guess that’s what happens when you do the Lord’s work. It’s a great blessing to be here. I’m a part of something much bigger that I can even comprehend. I see that every day when I take a moment to think about the magnitude of my calling as a representative of Jesus Christ. The amount that I don’t yet understand by far outweights what my mind does have somewhat of a hold on, but what I can testify to, is that this church is true. Jesus Christ has restored his Gospel and Priesthood authority on the earth once more through a prophet, and we have the Lord’s guidance because of it. He knows who we are, and what challenges we have. I recieved a confirmation of this earlier this week as I was talking to a former companion of mine, who now lives with us as a result of some other events (don’t ask). I was impressed by the love the Savior must feel for her, and as I was talking to her, I realized that I everything I was saying applies directly to each and every one of us. YOU (insert pointing finger here) are a child of Heavenly Father. He loves you. He knows your name. He knows what’s in your heart, so you can be sure that when no one else understands, He does. He gets it. He gets you. And He reaches out to you every day if you let Him. As we share this truth with people every day, it’s easy to forget to apply it to myself and really internalize how amazing that is. I am a daughter of God! How cool is that?? I wish I could make everyone just grasp that concept. If people really understood their divine nature, every other principle of the Gospel would just fall in line. They wouldn’t have a problem with the Word of Wisdom, because they wouldn’t dare defile their bodies with harmful things. They would easily accept the Plan of Salvation, because it makes perfect sense that Heavenly Father would have sent us here with a sure way to return to Him again. There would be peace and love in the world, because it would be clearly understood that the worth of every soul is precious in the sight of God. Every once in a while I get a glimpse of the eternal nature of these truths, and it just blows my mind. We had an experience this week like that. We were in a lesson with a man who’s been confined to a wheelchair because of a work-related accident. In the middle of the lesson, I had a prompting to sing “I am a child of God” to him. So my companions and I sang all three verses. Most of those that know me also know that I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to music, choirs, harmony, etc., but I can honestly say that I’ve never heard anything more beautiful and in-tune than that song. And I’m sure it has nothing to do with our talent. My companions and I all agreed that that was the strongest we’d felt the Spirit in any lesson we’d had so far. I know that it was witnessing to me the truthfulness of the message those verses contained.
Hellooo! I have news! First though, lemme splain what all happened this week. It was our first full week together, Hermana S. and I, and we just went straight to work. In case I forgot to tell everyone, our companionships were switched up a little bit in the middle of this last transfer, so Hna V. switched places with Hna S, who I just started training instead. She’s been working really hard and we’ve been getting a lot done together. At the beginning of this week we had a lesson with a few ladies we’d been teaching for a while, but were never going anywhere. Finally I felt to tell them that there were other people that we needed to teach that were more prepared to hear our message, so we were going to focus on them. This didn’t really make sense to me at the time, since they were really actually our only investigators. But I said it anyway, and we parted ways until they feel ready to call and listen again. But we went ahead and focused our efforts on finding people that were prepared. One day we were driving and passed a greenhouse that we’ve driven past 20 times already. We decided to go ahead and stop in, and we did. We approached the hispanic workers there and proceeded to talk to them. They asked what we do and as soon as we told them, they asked if we had time to sit and talk with them. So, con mucho gusto, we did. We sat and taught the message of the Restoration. And they were so excited. They had so many questions and asked if they could come to church even if they weren’t members. We told them of course! And they promised to ask work off to come. We stopped by again a couple days later just to check up on them and they again asked if we had time to teach them. So we did, this time about the Plan of Salvation. They were equally as excited and now want to be baptized. We will hopefully see them again this week at English classes, and they promised to bring all their friends. We’re really looking forward to it!
I think I always start off saying it’s been a crazy week, but man, has this week been crazy! It started off pretty normally (as normal as a week in the life of a missionary can be), and we had a few appointments, most of which fell through, meetings, etc. Then mid-week we went on exchanges and I learned SO MUCH. The problem with being so far away from everyone else in the mission is that we don’t have much contact with the other Spanish speaking missionaries outside of our district. So it was a minor mind-blowing experience to learn how to plan more effectively from another Hermana. I don’t think I’ve gotten that excited about goal setting in a while. But at the end of the exchange, we got a call from President Baker (which is always scary) telling us that my companion Hna Valdez and I would be temporarily split up to accommodate an emergency transfer for another companionship. So that added to the craziness. So I am now training my second trainee, who speaks 0 Espanol. So it’s been difficult and I feel completely unqualified to carry the Spanish by myself, but I feel like I’m improving for sure and I’m grateful for that. We’re working together on her Spanish and she’s learning really quickly. I think this will be a blessing, however challenging it might be.
First and foremost, Happy late Fourth of July! Thank you to all of the men and women who have fought for our freedom, and who keep our country safe. Your sacrifice is appreciated. 4th of July here was great. We got the day off, and got to stay out late (until 10:30). We were going to watch the fireworks, but decided we wouldn’t be able to make it back home in time, so ended up making s-mores in the oven, which in my opinion, taste way better than fireworks. Oh. Back to the beginning of the week. So Monday I got my haircut. Like I told Benjamin, if he cut his hair I’d cut mine. And he did. So I did. It was getting too hot to walk around like Cousin It, so I decided to chop it. 10 inches. Gone. It’s taken some getting used to, and with the humidity sometimes I look like a lion, but it’s so much cooler, and therefore worth it. Monday was also the first official day of the Virginia Chesapeake Mission, so Tuesday when we had Mission Conference we met President Baker and his wife. There have already been some pretty big changes, but he’s an inspired man, so I feel confident with the direction he’s leading the mission. And it’s a good thing I gained that testimony the first day I met him with the phone call we got yesterday. Since the Richmond mission split, the Chesapeake mission was put a week behind to coordinate with the transfer periods of the MTC or something, so we lost a week. So instead of transfers being next week, they’re this week. So instead of transfer calls being made next Sunday, they were made yesterday. We were teaching Spanish at a member’s house when the phone rang, and since they only call if a change is being made, we knew one of us were leaving. And since the caller ID said President Baker, we knew it was a big change. We excused ourselves and put it on speaker, and he asked to speak with me. Most of what he said was a blur, but from what I remember and what my companions have told me, I’m going to Gloucester. I’m opening the area for Spanish speaking missionaries. And. I’m training a new Hermana straight from the MTC. And I’m not even finished with my own training. So this Thursday I’m going to the training meeting where I’ll receive more information, and then the transfer meeting where I’ll receive my trainee. Hermana Flores and I opened up this area when we came to Newport News, but there had already been Spanish missionaries here for a long time, just not Hermanas, so it was really different. This time there are absolutely no Spanish missionaries there and they don’t have a Spanish branch. Which means from what I gather, that we’ll be bringing Spanish investigators to the English ward and translating for them. So here’s hoping my new companion already speaks Spanish, because if not our investigators may be hearing a very different message than the one I translate. Fake it til you make it right? Ha. I know the Lord knows what he’s doing, but I sure don’t, so hopefully everything will work out! I’m still a little in shock, but really I’m excited to go and find some people to teach in Gloucester. The Stake President’s vision is that one day this will turn into a Spanish Stake, so I guess what better way to start than to get some branches started. I hope all is and are well back home and I love each and every one of you! Good luck to Will who’s leaving on his mission to Argentina next week, and Rachel who’s just started hers in the MTC! Keep up all the missionary work.
This week has probably been the craziest week of my whole mission. Lots of ups and downs. The beginning of the week started off slow. Well just Monday. And it might have something to do with the fact that it was preparation day. But by Tuesday morning things were in full swing and never slowed down. We had an appt with an investigator who confessed a bunch of sins to us, and I had no idea what to do with all that information. I guess people feel like they can trust us since we’re missionaries, but it starts to weigh on you after a while. I guess from what I’ve heard it’s something I’ll just have to get used to. And I can’t remember if it was this week or last week, but either way I forgot to mention, so…we got robbed. Yep. Someone broke into our car and stole a GPS (which we were borrowing), and a DVD player (which we were also borrowing). So that was a bummer. And I don’t remember if it was before or after that, but our downstairs neighbors got in a fight in the parking lot and we had to call the police. So that was fun. Actually not so much. But now they had to move out so hopefully the next tenant will be a cat lady. Then we had Family History Training and we are now officially FH consultants. That was really fun. I would strongly urge you to do your family history work. Okay so then we had a baptism!!! And everyone agrees that handsdown it was the most disfunctional baptism yet. Among many other things, our pianist was camping, the water was cold, my nose was bleeding, the branch president was confused, and the confirmation was NOT approved for right after the baptism. But other than that, the service was beautiful . Ha. But she got baptized, and that’s all that matters right? Then Saturday we had a blitz and handed out flyers for the open house of the new chapel opening up. We knocked so many doors and were drenched in sweat afterward because of how stinkin humid it was, but it was nice to get to talk to so many people. We said goodbye to a very active family in the branch this week, but two more families showed up to church that hadn’t in years, so it was really nice. We had a few very sobering lessons, and a few lessons with people who were not so sober, but either way, I know this Gospel is true. Keep the faith.
This week was a trip. Last Monday we found out we would be getting another companion straight from the MTC, so Thursday we went to go pick her up. She’s super sweet and already pretty fluent in Spanish, so that’s good. Wednesday, we had a lesson with a girl we’re teaching. She just graduated high school and had been dating the Branch Mission Leader’s son for a while, so they introduced us and we started teaching her. She’s amazing. Two weeks ago we asked her if she would be baptized, and she said she would have to pray about it but didn’t feel ready yet. So last week, we had a lesson with her and asked her if she thought she received an answer, and she said no, she didn’t get a yes or no. But before we could be too disappointed she said, “But, I just stepped back and looked at the big picture and how much happier I am now that I’ve been meeting with you, and I know it’s true, so I think I want to be baptized.” So we got right to work setting things up and we’re having the first baptism in this branch in about a year this Friday! I’m so excited and it’s just been amazing to see one person progress so much in such a short amount of time. And that just tells me again that this Church really is true. This is the same church that Jesus Christ established when he himself was on the earth, and it will continue to be the same, because He directs it through a living prophet. How amazing is that?? So already the week was going really well. Then Friday we were able to split up with some of the Hermanas from Richmond, and cover twice the appointments. My temporary companion and I went to teach a man that we met the first week we came to Newport News. We had to drop him for a while because he didn’t keep any of his appointments, but last week out of the blue he called us and said he was ready and set up an appointment, so we went. And he was there, but he was pretty intoxicated. We talked to him out on the street and he told us lots of things about his life. It was really sad actually. He’s alone in the country and misses his family and he’s a drunk so he doesn’t deserve respect and promised God he would go to church but didn’t and so he’s not good enough etc. We tried to show him how much Heavenly Father loves him anyway and wants to help him, but it was difficult to get a word in sideways because he would interrupt and couldn’t focus. Throughout the time he would laugh at me and tell me how bad my Spanish was, but after the 3rd time I had had enough. It was difficult to have the courage to say anything back because my Spanish really isn’t that good and it was hard to say what I wanted to, but I think the Lord helped me out a little bit, because I suddenly had all the words I needed to say “Look. We are not here so you can judge our Spanish. We are not here to argue or fight. We are here to help people come closer to Christ and use His Atonement to live with their Heavenly Father again. If you are not prepared to listen to that message, there are many people who are. We know what we have to offer is very important, so if you are not willing to accept it, we will just leave you now and teach someone who is.” And all the sudden he stopped talking, immediately asked for forgiveness, and promised to come to church and listen to us because he knew it was what he needed to do because the only person who could help him was God. So ultimately, even though we walked away reeking of alcohol, and weren’t sure he would remember it in the morning, I was grateful for the opportunity to let the Lord help me and give me the words to use like He promises He will if we just listen to the Spirit. So it was a good experience. Then Sunday we had Elder Lancing, an Area 70 come and speak to us, which was really cool. One of our investigators who I believe I mentioned last week, came and just loved all 3 hours of church and was so excited to come next week. I hope he does. It’s been a busy, good week. And I think next week will be even better. I miss you all and thank you so much for all your prayers and support. Love ya’ll!
This week kinda flew by. Monday we went to the zoo, and since I didn’t have time to e-mail that day I already told you all about it on Tuesday. After e-mailing we went to visit some people. Sort of. Not kidding, we stopped by 8 houses and 2 people were home. One of which slammed the door in our face. But we ended up having a little lesson with a less active member after, so it was okay. The next morning all of our appointments and backup plans fell through, so we visited some people we hadn’t planned to. We had been given 2 referrals from some other missionaries; a mother and daughter. They lived together with the daughter’s husband, who is very against the church. When we showed up she answered the door and her husband was right behind her, so we just asked for her mom. Once he left she quickly told us to come back next friday morning when he wasn’t home so she could listen too. So we will hopefully get to see them this week! We just hope and pray the husband’s heart will be softened so she can come to church with her mom, who’s already been once or twice. We had a couple other appointments that night, but they didn’t work out, so the only thing left was soccer. We play futbol every wednesday night at the church, and usually we have a couple nonmembers there, but we had never had one of our investigators come until last week. We met this kid at the flea market last Saturday, and had a lesson on the spot. For anonymity’s sake, his name is Jose. Well, Jose is from Guatemala and has only been here a little while. He’s completely alone in this country. He has brothers and sisters back in Guatemala, but his parents died when he was just 10. We found out yesterday he’s only 19 years old, but he’s been supporting himself for years. He wasn’t raised going to church or anything, so he has close to no knowledge of religion. He just believes in God. He prays every morning and every night, and tells us every time we meet how blessed he is. His life is so hard, but he’s so grateful for everything he has. He just lights up every time we talk about Christ. You can just feel his desire to be close to Him. He’s the sweetest most humble boy I’ve ever met. Yesterday we had planned to talk about the Restoration with him and break it down, but for some reason we didn’t feel it was right and talked a little about everything, but a lot about faith. He told us how he never drinks or smokes because he knows God doesn’t like it, and how he always feels really bad when his roomates use bad words. He told us about the promises he’s made with Heavenly Father and how he’s protected him all these years, so now it’s his turn to do his end and go to church. He is just the picture of meekness and faith. We invited him to be baptized last night and he immediately agreed, so we plan on setting him with a date this Wednesday. Then there’s this other woman we met with, and her two teenage daughters joined in the lesson too and want to keep learning more with her. She said next week she’s going to ask her husband to listen too. They’re just the sweetest family and we have really big hopes for them. It’s amazing how so many things fall through to make way for even greater blessings.
This week we had a lot of time to spend with less active members on account of all the investigators that dropped us, so we spent almost every night last week having a Family Home Evening with families in the branch. Some of the families we’ve been working with for a while, and some we just started meeting with, but it’s pretty much our favorite thing to do. Even though we’ve been working hard to get less actives to come back to church, it was still a surprise when so many showed up this Sunday. We had a record breaking 60 people at church, which is almost twice as much as when we first came in the area. It’s been amazing to see so many people turning things around and putting the Lord first, and the blessing they’re receiving in their families for it.
So this week. Whew. Where to start. Well, I think I’ve written about the investigator we had that was super solid and that we found working in her garder a few weeks ago? She didn’t believe in God at first and was super aggressive when we talked to her, but through a tender mercy of the Lord it started pouring outside and she invited us in. As we met with her over the weeks it became clear she was really special. We met with her twice a week and usually for about 2 hours each appt because of all the questions she had. She always kept the committments we gave her and just within a few weeks her whole countenance changed. The way she spoke, the way she treated her children, and just the way she carried herself, you could literally see the difference the Gospel was making in her life. It was amazing to witness. We were really excited about her. Then she missed our last appointment, which never happened before. We called and rescheduled, and she said she was really busy and would have to call us back, which also never happened. So I guess a small part of me saw it coming when she sent us a text message saying she didn’t want to meet with us anymore. But still, it was pretty shocking. We had been struggling with unity in the branch for a while and we were having a hard time meeting with people more than once, so when our only solid progressing investigator dropped us, I felt like everything just fell apart at once. It was a rough day. All the rest of our appointments fell through the rest of the day, so we decided to visit less actives. We stopped by to see a family that had been active until recently, and we knew what the problem was, so we were very bold with them because everyone else seemed to sugarcoat the issue. They were pretty quiet the whole lesson, but seemed like they understood that they needed to suck it up and move on. Apparently not, because a little while after we left, we got a message from some other missionaries in the branch telling us that this family had asked them to tell us not to come by their house anymore. Yeah. Yaknow the Avengers stickers you sent for my birthday? I stuck a sticker of the Hulk on that day because that’s how I felt. Ha. So now I’m studying the Christlike Attributes chapter of Preach My Gospel. Anyway, so we had literally nothing left to do the rest of the week seeing as everyone had dropped us or we had already visited them. So we knocked doors. In one area we noticed a man who had been kinda watching us from his door since we got there, but we kinda ignored it. But we walked by him as we were leaving and were impressed to go back and talk to him. Turns out he was a member who hadn’t been to church for a while and we somehow missed his name on the records. He was worried everyone would be mad at him for missing so many Sundays and didn’t want to go back and face them. We addressed his fear and he showed up to church yesterday! He also gave us the new address of another less active member who wasn’t on our records. And a family we had visited earlier in the week ended up coming to church as well. So it turned out to be a pretty good week with lots of little miracles. Oh. And we got transfer calls yesterday. I’m staying here for another transfer, which means I will be in the Chesapeake Mission now. So the new address is: