Thursday, November 17, 2011

She Returns!

Welcome Home Brooke!

        On Friday May 27, 2011 Brooke returned home to Salt lake from Puerto Rico.  There to greet her were our parents, grandma and grandpa Franklin, me (Abby), our sister Erin, and Brooke's friend Jake Garfield.  The only person not there to meet her at the gate was our sister Rachel, who was in Washington D.C. interning for Senator Hatch for the summer.

After 21 months, all four girls together again for the first time in August.

Brooke, we're glad to have you home and hope you enjoy this book of memories from your mission!

With love,


Christmas 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

One More Week...going strong!

Hey everyone,

So it's weird to think that this is one of the last emails I will be writing from Puerto Rico. I assume they will be giving me email time on Wednesday when I arrive at the mission office, they usually do but maybe not. It's crazy to think my time here in Puerto Rico is coming to an end. It hasn't really hit me yet as far as the work goes. I'm sure it will hit me thursday morning when I am on the way to the airport. I'm excited to see all of you but it's sad to realize my time here is coming to an end. But anyway... One more week going strong.

This week has been pretty hard, lots of rain here too. Tons of rain! Today is the first time the sun has come out in about 8 days. It gets pretty old trying to find things to do when there is no one in the streets to talk to but we are working hard and I know we'll start finding more families. We found quite a few cool families this week so we'll see how that goes, but we saw the biggest miracle on Sunday. That's what it is, really, nothing short of a miracle because there is this family that has been less active for years. The ward told us to go look for them. The husband is a former bishop. The elders have passed by many times and they never open the door. The husband hides from them and the only time they've let us in, he didn't come out of the back room. The mom and daughter and the two grandkids are super cool and they let us in but from the beginning they were reluctant. They were reluctant to give us their phone number and don't want any of the members to have it. So we just stopped by once and that Sunday as we were just staing sacrament meeting I looked out the glass window that shows the foyer and I saw them walking in; Daughter, Mom and DAD! Wow, I was shocked. Hermana Castillo started to cry. The look on the elder's faces were priceless. I really don't know what it was that motivated them to come after all these years, especially the father who has been so not receptive to anyone. Wow, that was so great to see, even though the investigators are few I feel like things are going to get better here.

Love you all a ton. Have a great week!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Hi everyone,

It was so fun to talk to all of you on Sunday! Although I missed talking to Rach. But I'm reading her blog posts that Mom copies into the email so at least I am able to read a little about all the awesome experiences she's having in DC. Well I wish I had more to report this week not much has happened since Sunday. We had an amazing zone conference monday, as always the spirit was so strong. We talked about how we have been working so hard making so many changes here in the mission but we haven't really seen so many fruits of our labors yet. But they shared a scripture with us to help us know that now is the time of the harvest, the time for Puerto Rico to start progressing. But I really liked it and I can apply it to my personal life. 2 Nephi 27:23 "For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the worlds that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith". God is a God of miracles he never changes but sometimes he is just waiting for us to have enough faith so that he can do is work.

Tell everyone hi for me, I can't wait to see everyone. Here are some pictures from when we went on the bike ride last p-day.

oops sorry I can't load the pictures up. they don't work. I have a question... did you ever get my package? did you like candy I sent? do you want more? Do you want me to bring anything home for you guys?

Oh this is a shot out for Steph and Katie, I have been getting your letters I'm excited to see you. I get home the 26th and I speak on the 5th. I'll try and write you when I get time.

Love you all a ton.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The work goes on.

Hey everyone! Thanks for all your emails. Wow, sounds like everyone is doing really fun things. I was seriously in awe to read Rachel's blog. I am still in shock that she's doing all that. Just imagine her hanging out with Senator Hatch and all those important people in the white house. Its surreal to read all that. Maybe because its because I am so far away and haven't really been hearing about this for so long. Good luck with all that Rach I'm sure you are doing amazing out there.

Well things here have been good. We are working hard trying to find new families. We are working with one awesome family. They are new but I'm just know that they'll be able to progress. The husband has been an investigator off and on for two years. The wife always hid when the missionaries came over. The elder's gave us the reference and asked us to stop by and at first she seemed reluctant but we got talking with her and she really opened up to us and we have had some amazing lessons with her. She told us that it seemed like God had to send her sisters so that she would listen. She doesn't realize yet that what she is feeling is the spirit but she has told us that when we left her house she just felt a peace her 8 year old who is pretty spoiled and off the wall was super well behaved and she just feels a lot happier. They are super awesome and I am excited to work with them more.

It's been tough trying to balance working there and trying to not abandon Juncos where we are still working with other investigators. There is so much potential there, many people could have baptism dates, they've been attending church but for one reason or another they aren't progressing and as much as we try we just haven't seen any progress in teaching them. That's been extremely hard, and a trial for my patience but maybe its just not their time yet.

Other than that things are good. I am excited to talk to you on Sunday. I have the option to do Skype. But it will probably be about 3:00 my time. I hope you are home at that time. I think what I will do is sunday morning at church borrow a phone from a member and with my phone card call you and we'll make plans. Love you a ton.

These are just some pictures for fun. We have the blessing of living with a sister from Mexico, even though she isn't in this photo, but we are the beneficiaries of some really good fun. One day we had a really stressful day in the mission, sometimes the only way to cope is just take a breather and go get some ice cream. haha.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Holy Week and a Luau

Thanks for your emails. I hope you all have a fun time in the Grand Canyon. Send me pictures. I can't believe you are done with school. I bet that's a relief. Rach when you get to DC you have to tell me all about it. I want to hear. I know I won't be able to see you 'til august but at least write and tell me how it's going.
Well this week was pretty good; we are getting to know the area better and the members. It was really hard with Semana Santa. None of our investigators let us teach them. Here everything shuts down for Holy Week. For them friday is the day when everyone goes to church because it is the day that Jesus Christ was crucified. Sunday isn't that important. I'm really glad that we focus more on the resurrection. Jesus Christ lives. It's a happy day. Well the best part of the week was the conference that we went to as a mission. Wow, so great. Friday we had a concert and fireside for less actives, recent converts and investigators. It was amazing! We all sang, they showed some really good videos about the life of christ, the mormon message videos and President Alvarado and his counselor spoke. It was a really spiritual experience. Amerfis drove all the way up from Juncos to see it and brought a friend. Wow she's so excited about sharing the gospel with everyone.  It's great. Well the next day we woke up and did service cleaning the parking lot of a stadium in Trujillo Alto, picking up garbage raking leaves etc. We got to wear these really cute yellow Mormon Helping Hands vests. Then we did another flash mob, singing 4 songs in the food court at Plaza las Americas which is the biggest mall in the Carribean. It turned out well but I don't think most of the people thought it was that cool.  We got a better reaction with the Christmas carols at Christmas time, but it was fun all the same . But the best part of the whole weekend was the luau that President threw us. Yeah, our president is the best. He threw a big luau that was super authentic. There are some members that are Hawaiian that were visiting and they threw it for us. It was complete with cooking the pig in the giant pit. We had poi, which is as gross as I remember it being when I tasted it at the PCC in Hawaii. President even let them put on dances. One of the sisters worked as a dancer at the PCC so they let her hula dance and the Polynesian elders did the haka and even the fire dance. It was awesome!  I'm still in shock that president let them do it but the weeknd was fun and still super spiritual. We had one of the best testimony meetings ever.

We had an amazing experience with some investigators in Juncos, Jorge and Rosa. He was not progressing as much as she was and he has tons of great questions but never asks in prayer and doesn't like to read. But we had a really great lesson with them last Wednesday and we finished with prayer and although he didn't want to, we were able to get him to finish the lesson with a kneeling prayer. The spirit was so strong and he started to cry so hard that he couldn't control himself.  He sort of threw himself into the couch because he was so emotional and his wife had to finish the prayer.  The spirit was so strong. But sadly because of Semana Santa and Rosa's crazy work schedule we haven't been able to teach them since wednesday. But I am excited for them. I know that they will start progressing now that he is progressing more.

Other than that. the work was slow last week because everyone was on vacation for Holy Week. But I know it will pick up again.

Tell everyone hi for me. Have a great week!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

New Area, New companion, New adventures

Hey Family,

Well its been a pretty crazy week. As I said, we are still living in Juncos but are working in Humacao. There are no missionaries in Juncos. We are still visiting a few investigators, recent converts and less actives for a few hours a week we work there and we are only going to work there if the members give us references. That was hard. Two members have already cried over the phone when they called us on the phone because they heard that they had taken us out. That was hard for me because I occasionally see them because we still live there and we have a few investigators. So the first week has been crazy. We had a few references given to us from the elders but other than that we are starting from scratch here. Its been a lot of work but we are slowly getting new investigators.

My companion is great. She has been out 13 months and she has been working in San Juan were the work is going really well.  She's a hard worker and really on fire, so its been good to work with her. She's pretty crazy and we laugh a lot. Poor thing's had a pretty hard week. Saturday afternoon she got bit by a dog. Well she moved her leg before it could bite her too bad; it ended up scratching her pretty bad though. We were a few doors down from a less active that the elders wanted us to look up and when we got there we started talking to her and we asked her for some stuff to clean it off, disenfect it and she said, "Of course! come on in! Actually the bishop and a ton of members are here." We walked in the house and in the backyard was a ton of members of the ward celebrating a birthday party. So it didn't turn out so bad.  The bishop's wife who is a nurse checked her out, made sure she was okay and we got food and some cake and met a ton of members which was a plus since we're new in the area. Then if that wasn't enough, yesterday we were filling up gas in the car.  The sensor on the tank which automatically turns off when the tank is full was broken and it didn't turn off.  It overflowed and she got gas all over her skirt. So we've had some exciting last few days.

Yesterday we found an amazing family. We were feeling a little frustrated trying to figure out where to go to be able to teach and find new investigators. We had a list of the young single adults that Elder and Hermana Lassus gave us and we had been meaning to go look for those that lived in our area. I felt a strong impression after praying that we needed to go to these apartments and find this one less active member. So we went and they had moved but there was a family that lives there. I felt the spirit instantly from the moment I met them and I just knew that the wife was going to let us in to teach and she did. We talked about the family and wow, this is an amazing family; really united, husband sounds great, hard working spends time with his kids just a really great family. We have an appointment to go back and teach them on sunday and I am really excited.

I felt like I should share something that I learned a few months ago when Elder Vinas, the area president, came to visit our mission. He talked about the scripture in Juan that says "this is life eternal to come to know God" he talked about coming to know the nature of God. That as we come to understand the nature of God we will have more faith in him, we will have a better relationship with him and understand better his plan and our place in it. He talked a lot about helping investigators coming to know God but also how we first have to come to know God ourselves. I wanted to share some scriptures with you. Alma 26:35. Even though Alma had lots of trials he rejoiced as he came to know God. Think about all the trials Alma had to go through especially as a missionary, including being cast out, spit upon, he and Amulek had to watch many members be burned by fire, yet he rejoiced because he had come to know God, that he has all wisdom, power and understanding, that God comprendeth all things.

He shared with us, 1 Nephi 10:18-19. As we diligently search for him, we will come to know God, and understand his plan. Elder Vinas told us to ask ourselves several questions: What have I learned about the character of God? About myself? How have you changed in your mission (or in other people's case, in the last few months, year, etc)?

We reviewed at a zone conference what we learned as we studied about the character of God. I really learned a lot those few weeks. At the conference we made a list of all the characteristics of God then we had to our favorite and pick a scripture that talked about the character of God and explain what it had to do with the characteristic that we had chosen. Well I picked two scriptures 1 Nephi 9:6 and 1Nephi 11: 17. Read them there awesome! This is mostly what I shared:

God is all knowing and wise. We need to confide in him and it will all work out. In my second area, Toa Alta I had some really hard transfers. After two transfers of spending more time in the apartment than outside because of a sick companion, I was tired and ready to work and get back to normal. The next few transfers we worked and worked and saw no progress. I was tired and ready for a change. I felt like there was nothing left to do in that area. I didn't know why I was still there, and what it was that Heavenly Father wanted me to do. I was ready for President to take me out of there and just start anew. There were days when we didn't have a single appointment planned, the planner was a blank page. Then, my best convert, the one that is the most active and on fire to this day, Nicole, found us. She came to us, and then when she was prepared for baptism president closed the area. The whole time I didn't have enough faith that God had a reason for me to still be there. The whole time he was trying my faith. My favorite scripture on the mission is D&C 123:15-17. When we do all we can, and we are "of good cheer" then we need to "be still and wait for the arm of God to be revealed". I have been trying to learn to do this on the mission. I am still in this process. But I am trying to confide in my Heavenly Father more. He knows. He knows what's best for us. He'll guide us but we have to have faith in him. I could share many examples of this on the mission. He knows. He has a plan, he loves us and he knows what's best because he is all knowing and wise and loving. We just have to trust in him. That's were faith comes in. Something that has always been a little hard for me. But I'm getting better.

The bishop of Humacao also shared this with us on sunday. he asked, Do you know God? everyone sat there thinking and I said I'm still working on it. He said good answer. We are all working on it.

Anyway I just felt that I needed to share that. Love you all a ton. Hope you have a great week.

P.S.  We haven't heard anything yet about details about Mother's day. But I imagine like always we just have to find a time that works for both of us. I'll let you know when it gets closer.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Moving without Moving

Well I moved areas without moving. I know weird huh? We still live in Juncos but we know longer work in Juncos; we are going to be working in Humacao which is about 15 miles away.  It's another ward. We have two new sisters living with us and me and my new companion are going to be working in Humacoa and the other two in caguas but we are sharing an apartment in Juncos which is in the middle. Basically they just are taking advantage of having an apartment in Juncos and using it as a middle point. It is really sad becuase we won't be working in Juncos anymore but at least before I go I can maybe ask president permission to visit people on p-day before I go home so it could be worse. They switched up every single sister in the mission. Lots went home and everyone changed. It was sad.  It would have been cool to work with Hermana Beltran to the end but... my new companion is Puerto Rican. Her name is Hermana Castillo. She is pretty cool.  I don't know her very well because she was in the east mission before. She's been out about a year. 4 companions in 4 transfers. Lots of changes but... that's happening all over the mission cause so many sisters are going home. It's good though. I'm learning a lot from my companions. But anyway, it will be an interesting transfer opening a new area there.

It was so sad saying goodbye to people, especially Amerfis and her daughters. Wow, its so hard when you get to love people so much and then have to save goodbye and they don't really understand how the whole transfer thing works.  It's hard for them to say goodbye. I was so close to tears so many times, I love this ward so much. But...

So today's been a good day. I got to see a lot of sisters before they went home including Hermana Rodriguez which was really great. I got to hear all about my old areas. Wow! So many miracles have happened. People that I used to teach, that got baptized later.  Many people have come back to church. It made me really happy. Nicole is going strong, still saving to go on the mission.  Several of the young women and young men I taught in Toa Baja are still going strong even though they don't have permission to get baptized yet. So things are good. Hermana Estrada told me a less active woman that I met in Walmart over three months ago and started talking to is now active and two people have been baptized because of it. I remember that day. I heard a woman say to another person "look there's an elder" haha , really i'm a sister! but I didn't say that. I just started talking to her and asked if she had met elders before. Turned out she was less active for many years. Well, now three months later she is active and two people have been baptized since because of her. All these things just go to show that Heavenly Father puts us in the right place at the right time. And after putting in so much work even when we leave our areas the work keeps moving forward.  Maybe you won't see the fruits of your work in that moment or six or nine months later or maybe years but even the small efforts we put in will one day pay off.

Good luck on finals everyone. I can't believe you are already finishing up. Keep going strong. Keep going to the temple. I'm excited to come back and be able to go. Maybe I'll start going tuesday mornings when mom and dad are working. Thanks for your emails. Sorry this is short I have to go because of transfers we are short on time and we have lots of errands we have to run. Love you all a ton.