Monday, February 22, 2010

Another week in Puerto Rico

Hey Family,

Thanks for the emails this week. Sounds like things are going good at home. I am so excited for Abby! BYU!! It will be fun to have Rachel and Abby there when I get back. Haha if they both haven't graduated by then. Sounds like everything else is going good. I am still shocked by the fact that Mom has a blogged but when I read a few parts that you sent me its a really cool idea. It made me hungry and made me miss Mom's food. But who better than to write a cooking blog? Happy Birthday to Erin and Dad!!! Hope you did something fun. I'm sure it involved German Chocolate Cake and valentine's day chocolates.

Well things here are good. I am still in Bayamon. But my new companion is Hermana Lopez. She was working in the next ward over. She is super nice, and really fun. She's from El Salvador. It's definately different working with a different companion because everyone has a different way of contacting people and a different way of teaching so it's been an interesting week of trying to find ways to mesh two different styles together but she is pretty awesome. This week was a little hard because it was raining a lot. Not rain like back home though. Think about when we have a big downpour, that is how it rains here. Nobody really leaves their homes, Knocking doors isn't the most productive and when we show up to appointments people don't answer the door because they are just chilling in their pajamas all day. But we keep plugging along.

I have found another thing that I am extremely grateful for that I have always taken for granted. Running water. You don't realize how many gallons of water it takes to wash dishes, shower, or flush a toilet until you don't have running water. This week the water system is down in Bayamon, I am not sure what happened exactly but the sistern or whatever is called broke. Luckily as missionaries we are required to have a certain number of gallons of emergency water on hand. We have had a enough for the last two days but today we have to go refill at the big trucks of water that the government has placed around town. We only had one hour of church because there was no water for the bathrooms and a lot of the businesses have shut down. Hopefully it will be back up in a few days. No worries, we're doing fine.

Just before Hermana Venegas left, we had a pretty cool experience with a family we found. A few days before we had found a young girl while knocking doors. She barely talked to us, and was super timid but she accepted a return appointment. When we went back to visit her she let us in and she and her older brother sat down on the couch. One by one as we were singing "I am a Child of God" more siblings and finally her Mom came in. So of course we introduced ourselves and the whole family started to listen. This family has 5 kids that are 21, 19, 17,13, 2 years old. It was a pretty good lesson and as Hermana Venegas was reciting the first vision in Joseph Smith's own words she had this feeling that she needed to show a picture of it, sometimes we show it but not always. After showing the picture the Mom, Abasita, put her face in her hands and started to cry. She then told us that two nights before she had had a dream where she dreamed of a forest with light, like she saw in the picture in the pamphlet but without people. Anyway, this family is amazing. We are going back to see them tonight they wanted to have a few days so that they could all take turns reading the Book of Mormon. All five of them, those that can read, committed to read and pray to know if it is true. Anyway, we are super excited for this family and another family we found this week. So hopefully things go well.

Well I have to go but love you all. I hope you have a marvillous week. Keep me updated on the fun things going on at home.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Happy Valentines Day

Hey Family,

Happy Valentines Day! and Happy Birthday Erin and Dad! Cards are in the mail sorry I haven't been sending anything else cool. I owe all of you something cool from Puerto Rico. Sounds like you are all doing fun things. Thanks for doing all the temple names, sounds like you have had some really cool experiences. That's one thing I really miss, oh well maybe one day Puerto Rico will get a temple.

This week has been pretty crazy, with the last intercambio there was a lot of time spent driving and we had a hard time finding members to come out with us but it was also really great because we were able to see the baptism of Emma Gamboa. So amazing to see my first baptism and for someone that we love so much. It is so cool to see someone change so much from the first time you meet them to hugging them as they get out of the baptismal font. She was so happy. She loved the baptism service and the spirit was so strong. It was a crazy day though. We had a ton of other appointments and we had to change the baptism from Saturday to Friday just a few days before. Because of that some of the members that were planning on talking at the baptism some of them weren't able to so we had to change the program last minute at a members house and then go print it out and we went to go visit Emma before because we couldn't get a hold of her. Well the baptism started at 6 and at 5:20 we were waiting for her outside her house. She showed up crying becuase she had just been to the Veteranarian, and found out her dog had cancer. She loves her dog so much because after her husband died her dog is like a little kid. So we said a little prayer with her show she wouldn't be as nervous, then we ran to office max to make copies of the program, we had to drop off the member that was with us going to an appointment we had before and of course there was traffic. So we sat in traffic for like fifteen minutes. It was crazy but we got there about 6:03 and everything worked out in the end. Crazy, Crazy day. But the baptism was amazing. She is so happy. There were three women from the Relief Society that were standing outside waiting for there to give her a hug and congratulate her. She said that she had never felt so loved or been so well received in any place like this. She was so happy and on sunday she celebrated her first Valentines Day in 40 years, because as a Jehovist Witness she didn't celebrate. She bought roses and tied them with little bows and gave one to each of the women in Relief Society when they did a little Valentine Card exchange. She is so happy and she told us that this is the best thing that has ever happened to her. Its been so good to see that change in someone.

We have had a hard week having to drop a few investigators that weren't progressing but we have also found two amazing families that we taught the first lesson two that we are really excited for. One of the families is a mom with five kids and when we showed her the picture of the first vision she covered her face with her hands and began to cry because she said that she had seen something like that in a dream two nights ago. She and all of her kids said that they would read the Book of Mormon. The are a really great family with kids that are 23, 19, 17, 13 and 2 years old. We are really excited to go back and teach them.

It will be very strange to start a new transfer without Hermana Venegas but it will be good, we have a lot of really great investigators that we have just started to teach and I am excited to get to know a new companion and learn from her as well, even though I know it will be very different I know I will learn a lot from Hermana Lopez. Hermana Venegas goes home tommorrow and Hermana Lopez, who I know pretty well because she serves in our sister ward is going to be my new companion. She is super nice and is from El Salvador and speaks no english so it will be really good for my spanish.

Hey thanks for asking what I want for my birthday. There isn't a ton that I want. I know that it is winter back home but another button up shirt or two would be nice sometimes when p-days get changed or when we get soaking wet in the rain it would be nice to have another one. Also could you send me my old spanish bible? It should be in a box in the garage or something. It is burgundy. Sorry I know that you sent it to me in the MTC and I sent it back but it weighs a whole lot less than the new one they gave me in the MTC and my bag gets pretty big carrying all the stuff that we need. There is also a possibility that we will be sharing cars with the Elders in our ward, meaning they would have it for half the week and us for the other half. Meaning that I will have to carry more stuff with me throughout the day instead of leaving it in the car so a smaller bible would be nice. Also if you are looking for birthday gifts church cds are good, because we can listen to them in the car. If you can find any in spanish that would be better seeing as many of my companions don't speak english and all the music I have is in english. If not just send whatever you think would be fun. By the way, mom asked about the new mission president. President Martineau and the president of the East Mission end in June a new president as been called who is Puerto Rican.

Love you all. Thanks so much for your emails and blog updates. I'll try and send pictures next week when we have more time. The computers here are so slow it takes forever to load anything. Maybe I'll send you a cd with all my pictures.

Love you all a ton.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Hey Family,

It was way good to hear from all of you this week. Sounds like you are loving London Rach. Thanks for sending her blog. I saved it to my jump drive and I am going to go print it out somewhere and read it so I can catch up on all of your adventures. Sounds like you are having so much fun, I'm slightly jealous of all the cool things you are doing. Erin, hope things are going well with school. I am sure you are super busy like always writing up a storm and working everyday too. You'll have to fill me in on some of the things that you are writing about. Sounds like you guys had a fun time with the Dees this week.

Well things here are about the same. This week has been absolutely crazy, and I'm not going to lie it was really hard. It started out with us waking up at 5:00 am on Tuesday to drive three hours to the other side of the island to do an exchange. I dropped off Hermana Venegas in San Sebastian and picked up another sister to come stay in Bayamon with me for 3 days. Six straight hours in the car is not fun especially trying to navigate your way around crazy Puerto Rican roads, it doesn't really make for a productive work day either. Well even though we did intercambios last week they were each shorter and things to work out a little. I'm not going to lie this one was a little hard. For three straight days I was basically in charge because the other sister didn't know the area, the members or the investigators. It was a really good experience for me to learn especially since Hermana Venegas will be leaving but it was also slightly exhausting. I am so grateful that we get to be in an area for awhile with the same companion. You really learn how to work together and can help each other out knowing what the investigators need etc. These intercambios have been a really good learning experience for me. First, I have learned to have a lot more confidence in myself as a missionary, even though I still have a lot to learn I can also see how much I have learned these past few months and it was nice to realize, okay, I can do this and I don't have to depend on my training so much. Another thing I have learned these last few weeks is the importance of loving everyone you meet, and trying to meet their individual needs. Most importantly, I have learned that if you don't love the person you can't have the spirit and you can't teach with the spirit if you are trying to convince them of anything. As missionaries our job is not to convince anyone by the words or the scriptures we use but rather that we have to teach them with love and the spirit and if there is contention we might as not teach at all. Everyone has their different teaching styles, but no matter how you teach if you are in the mood to argue with someone you will never get anywhere. Anyway, just some random thoughts I've been thinking about.

There isn't a ton more to tell that has happened this week. We have still been teaching some of the same investigators but for many different reasons, their sick, out of town, etc. we haven't seen any major progress with some of them this week. We really do have some great investigators is just all about getting them to put forth that faith to make the changes in their lives, and it all starts with coming to church. That's our new goal, get them to church. Emma is getting baptized on Saturday. Well we hope so. This last week she has been super nervous because the baptism date was coming up. She knows that she needs to get baptized, she has such a strong testimony and she has kept everyone of her committments but she is just nervous as it is getting closer. She was super nervous to fast, because she has never done it before but she fasted with us yesterday and we invited her to fast with her baptism in mind and make a decision if she felt ready for the 13th. We are going to go visit her tonight and ask her what she has decided. I hope she goes through with it this week because I know she had an amazing experience yesterday, she paid a large fast offering and even gave extra, as the bishop and first presidency had asked us to increase our fast offering this month for the people in Haiti. She fasted with us even though she was really nervous, I mean really nervous, and she was crying throughout the whole testimony meeting. We are going through with plans for her baptism, making the program etc. just in case so that it will all be planned out. If not we'll just have to push the date back.

Well I'll let you know how it goes. Love you all a ton.

PS Here are a few pics. One is me with a few of the other sisters in our mission. The other is me with a giant face that was carved into the rock by indigenous people. Its super old it is by some caves in a place called Santa Isabel that is on the north coast of the island. We passed it driving to Mayanguez last week. Super cool and random.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Hey Everyone,

Thanks for all your emails this week. It was good to hear from all of you. Sounds like things are going well at home. This week has been pretty crazy. Hermana Venegas and another sister have special assignment to do exchanges with all of the sisters in the island. Hermana Venegas is going to be with each of the sisters (well half, and Hna. Gonzalez is doing the other half) each for one day. Which means she goes with one of the sisters and then I go with their companion. Its actually a pretty complicated how it all works. Basically lets just say as Hermana Venegas travels around the island, working with sisters in their areas other sisters have been coming to Bayamon to work with me. It is a good way for all of the sisters to get to learn from other sisters and for Hermana Gonzalez and Hermana Venegas to help all the sisters with certain goals that President wants. For example better contacting, using the Book of Mormon more effectively etc. So this tuesday I go to be with three different sisters from tues, wed, thursday and saturday. This week I will be with another sister for three days while Hermana venegas is on the west side of the island. and the week after I will be with another sister. Its super stressful and involves lots of time traveling to and from different places but it has been really fun to get to know more of the sisters in the mission and learn from them. It has been a good opportunity for me to learn how to be in a leadership role, seeing as they don't know the investigators or the area I have been in charge a lot, deciding what to teach things like that. It's been stressful but I am learning a lot.

This week has been really good. We taught the word of wisdom to Emma and she gave up her coffee! We were super nervous for this lesson. We talked to her about the places that she was most tempted to drink coffee so that we could help her make a plan to give it up. We asked what time a day, if there was something else she liked that she could drink or eat instead and then I asked her if she had it in the house. To our surprise she walked into the kitchen and reluctantly handed it to us saying "even the gourmet?". So, believe it or not we left her house with coffee in hand, we even took pictures because we were so excited. And then we didn't have time or anywhere to throw it out and the next day our car stunk like really strong coffee. Haha. It was a really good day. We were so excited. But yesterday after church we went to visit her and because of some other things she is starting to not really feel comfortable for the 13th of Feb for a baptism date. We are praying really hard that we can help her feel ready and that she will be able to get baptized before Hna. Venegas leaves. Pray for her, we would really appreciate it.

We have some other really great investigators the struggle is just getting them to come to church. People are really nervous to come to church. They are fine to read the Book of Mormon, they pray but to make that choice to come to church is always the hardest.

Well things here are good. Oh as an answer to your question mom the picture I sent is typical Puerto Rican food. Beans, rice, turkey and what they call a pastel. I think I wrote about it before it is basically a tamale but the masa is made out of mushed up green bananas and it looks good but it is the hardest things for me to eat. there is something about it that I can't even stomach. I'm not too picky but I'm not going to lie this ones hard for me to eat. We don't eat it too much because it takes a lot of work and they are pretty expensive to make so they are usually eaten during holidays and such, which is why we have had a few around Christmas but we haven't had some in a while.

Well it was so good to hear from you all. Sounds like you are having a lot of fun in London, Rach, thanks for the pics. I want to read what you have been writing on your blog but I can't look at your blog cause all I can do is email. Will you send me an email with all your past blog entries and maybe when you post on your blog copy and past the same thing in an email to me, I want to hear how it's going. Erin, sounds like things are going good and you are getting back to normal with school and work. Hope you have time to do some fun things like skiing, I'm sure you are. Ab, thanks for your email, no worries, you can write anytime you want to talk sorry I can't really write back very often. Hang in there, before you know it you will be done with senior year and you'll love going to college. It's fun to hear from you guys mom and Dad hope things are going well, i'm glad you are getting to the genealogy stuff for your calling Dad that's super cool. Well I have to go, love you all.