Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Loving Arecibo

Hey Everyone,

Sounds like everything is going well at home. I'm glad school is going well good luck with midterms and all your classes. Law club? Wow, Rachel the lawyer. Haha. I think that is really cool. You'll have to let me know how you like that. Erin, I hope you start feeling better soon. I'm so sorry you've been so sick. Good luck with getting Spring City ready that's really amazing that they are going to put it in a book. Hey Dad, I have seen the Arecibo Observatory it's not too far away from where we live. I didn't know it was so famous. That's cool. Oh and that's cool what you sent me about BYU.

Arecibo is really great. It's pretty cool being so close the ocean. We were knocking doors on this urb that's right on the edge of the water. It's so beautiful here. I am constantly surprised at the excitement of the members to work in the mission work. Wow, all of the leaders are focusing so much on bringing back the less active members and they are so excited to go out and work. We are just working really hard right now to be able to find more people. Nicole is amazing she is so excited for her baptism. If it weren't for General Conference this weekend she would be getting baptized this weekend. Her mom is having a pretty hard time and has a ton of questions about things like thinking that once Nicole gets baptized she'll be shipped off to who knows where to serve a two year mission and also she has doubts like she heard somewhere that Joseph Smith was a delinquent. It's been really hard for Nicole and seeing as her mom doesn't want to listen to the missionaries in Toa Baja and know we are here but we are trying to help her stay positive and help her mom understand.

We had the most amazing two day conference. It was a special conference that president does for just the leaders in the mission but this time he invited all of the sisters. These conferences that he has are always amazing supposedly and we were excited to get invited. But we had to meet our goals of having 140 contacts and 20 lessons for the week. Well that was a little bit crazy becuase with white washing and all we haven't had that many investigators yet. But we were so determined that we needed to be at that conference. So we worked ridiculously hard. After a lot of prayer we were able to make our goal and we found 11 new investigators this week. The conference was amazing! Wow, words can't describe the spirit that was there. President and his wife are amazing! We focused on teaching people and not lessons and specifically on teaching families. Very rarely are entire families baptized. But that is the goal that we are baptizing families. We have started focusing on the family and practicing teaching families. Often in the morning during our studies or in district meetings when we practice we are teaching our companion but he wants us now to focus on teaching a family. The whole conference we taught groups of 4 or 5 missionaries treating them as though they were a family. It's so true, usually we teach individuals and it is a whole different story teaching a family where you have to teach in a different style to catch the attention of the kids or each person has a different doubt or understands differently. He wants us to draw a picture of a family and put on our wall and practice teaching them instead of our companion. I know that sounds weird but it really changed the way we are teaching. Focusing on teaching families is really going to change the mission work here. It's exactly what Puerto Rico needs, a message about the family. It's what the whole world needs because Satan is attacking the family. Wow, when I think about how the gospel has blessed my family and how amazing it is to know that mom and dad were sealed in the temple. If every person could hear about how much that blesses the family, it would be amazing. Puerto Rico needs to hear about families and we need to bring back those families that have been lost so that we can build the church here and one day have a temple.

I can't believe I have almost been out a year. This time of year last year I was getting ready to go finish my job at ancestry and getting ready to go into the MTC. It is going by way too fast and I still feel like I just got here. There is so much to learn and time is going by way too fast. It's almost General Conference time. Crazy huh? We will be watching it in the stake center in Toa Baja. I'm super excited and it will be fun to see people because I wasn't able to say goodbye to people before we came to Arecibo. That's the good thing about still being in the same stake the whole time, even though we are over an a hour away and it doesn't feel like we are in the same stake. Well anyway, wish I had some more exciting things to write about. I'll try and send you some more pictures when I have a chance.

 Love you all a ton!
Say hi to everyone for me!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Arecibo is amazing!

Hey Everyone,

Hope everything is going well. Sounds like Dad is having fun chasing trains. haha. Hope you start feeling better Erin, and hope school is going well for all of you. You'll have to let me know how everything is going at BYU. Thanks for the postcard ab, I love getting a postcard from my home town. Sounds like you have been super busy mom. Good luck with all that. It's too bad you can't fedex me some warm homemade bread and some homemade soup, there's nothing like that here and it's too hot to eat soup. Tell everyone in the ward hi for me.

It was sad to leave Toa Baja especially after being there 6 months and President told us to just pack and leave we were aren't to say goodbye to anyone, just our investigators. So that was extremely hard. But luckily since Arecibo is the same stake I might be able to see some of them at General Conference. It's crazy that it's almost October. Well it's been a crazy week. Whitewashing an area (when two brand new missionaries that don't know an area are sent there) is crazy but the branch is amazing. We are still getting lost and we don't have too many people to teach but we are finding a few and we are teaching Nicole who is amazing. She is getting baptized the 8th of October. We were going to do it a week earlier but because it General Conference and she would have to wait a week to be confirmed on the 9th she decided to do it on the 8th. We are looking for people to teach but when we do I know we are going to have a lot of success because the branch is so amazing. It is a branch but it's just about the same size in attendance as my last two wards. The branch is really unified and the members are working really hard with the missionary work. Because for awhile there weren't missionaries the members really stepped up and starting doing some amazing things. One thing that they do every thursday night is called visitas de pastoreo which are basically where everyone meets at the church and they are assigned to go out and look for less active members and invite them to come back to church. They have seen a lot of success and the members are really excited about it. The member attendance in missionary correlation meeting last night was phenominal, I have never seen anything like it. There are missionary firesides and Cine Mormon activities where they show church movies. It's really quite amazing, after not have missionaries they have really realized that they have a big role in the mission work. We have quite a few part member families and less active families that the leaders have asked us to work with and we are really excited and I'm sure the work will start picking up once we are able to contact them and start teaching on a regular basis.

The area that we are working in is actually pretty small. President wants us to work close to the church and mostly on foot. The branch area is huge but he wants us to focus on areas close to the chapel and doesn't want us to go into the country. Our apartment is about five minutes from the church and we live about ten minutes from the Atlantic Ocean. Arecibo doesn't have beaches its more like rocks but it's really pretty cool to look out and see the Atlantic Ocean. It's been awhile since I'm been in the city and it reminds me of being back in Bayamon.

Well anyway I have to go we have to meet a member to go teach Nicole. Hope things are going well.

 Love you all!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Transferred to Arecibo

Hey Everyone,

So p-day was wednesday it looks like President Alvarado won't be changing p-days on transfer week like we used to do which makes this p-day extremely busy, including packing, moving and unpacking because they are sending us both to Arecibo which is about an hour west of Toa Baja. Hermana Rodriguez and I are staying together and we are going to open up an area which is has been closed for a transfer and there were Elders there. It is a small branch so it will be the first time serving in a branch. Apparantly the members are amazing and President told us that he is confident that we are going to have a lot of success there.

I'm sorry to here that Rach and Erin haven't been feeling well. That's awesome mom that they voted you president. It will be really fun. Hope you are having fun with school. It's so weird to think that another year of BYU has started sometimes I feel so far away. I really have no idea what is going on in the world right now. haha it's pretty weird. Tell everyone hi for me and tell Ashley congratulations I can't wait to see pictures of her new baby. Tell Grandma and Grandpa hi, I got there letter. I'll try and write them when I get a chance.

This weekend has been great. We taught Nicole on Friday and she invited her Mom so that her mom could hear a little bit becuase her parents aren't too excited about her getting baptized. Well talk about being nervous! Her mom just sat there observing us teach not saying anything. We had no idea if she thought we were crazy, she had one doubt that we were able to resolve but we left the lesson not knowing if that made it better or worse for Nicole. Well she called us that night and told us that her parents both gave permission for her to get baptized. She doesn't need it becuase she turned 18 this week but they both said that it would be okay. Apparantly her mom was able to feel the spirit and see that this was something good for her daughter. Well Nicole told us that she wants to be baptized right away. She doesn't want to wait for anything. But its a little hard becuase she lives in Arecibo during the week and we can't teach her much. She said it doesn't matter, I'll come home early friday and you can teach me friday and saturday and every day off I have i'll come home. So we said okay we'll move the baptism up. Her dad came to church on Sunday and the priesthood received him very well.

It was a little crazy becuase we had interviews with President and he asked us about Nicole and he basically asked why we were waiting to baptize her so long he was like "what are you waiting for?" Then he told us "well you are going to teach her quickly because I am moving you to Arecibo and I want you to keep teaching her there doing the week and I will give you special permission so you can go to her baptism". Wow, you can't imagine our suprise. We were really sad becuase we pretty much knew that they were going to close our area or at least move me because I've been here so long and I wouldn't be able to see her baptism. But look at that, we are going to keep teaching her in Arecibo where she goes to school! President told us that he has been thinking all transfer what he is going to do with Arecibo and he still didn't know what to do with that area until we came into his office and he just knew that that is where he needed to send us. We are extremely excited, a little nervous but we are excited to go to work in a place that is city and there haven't been missionaries for awhile and the branch is ready and excited to work. It's really sad to leave Toa Baja becuase I love the members there so much but it's been a hard few transfers there because there just aren't enough people to teach. But at the same time I know that our efforts aren't wasted. We may not see the fruits of our work when it comes to numbers but we've seen some small miracles that I know that we needed to be there and there is a reason that they kept me there for 6 months. So I'll let you know how it goes. We have to run off now and find our new apartment and go to work. Love you all. I think of you all the time. Sorry I don't have hours and hours to write our I would tell you everything.

Oh by the way, President wanted me to give you a heads up. Hermana Rodriguez and I both hit 18 months on May 4. He told us monday that he would like us to extend an extra month. It's still really far away. I will have to see when summer term starts at byu because I have to take a few classes. Rach or Ab, could you find out for me? Anyway that is really far away but he wanted us to give you a heads up that he might send us home in the beginning of June. It's crazy to think that far out I still feel like I just got here and I don't want to think about going home yet.

Anyways, love you all.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Spirit Teaches

Hey Everyone,

Thanks for all the emails. I'm sorry you've been so sick Erin, that's rough. I hope that school is going well for all of you. Thanks for everyone who is praying for me, haha and Rach tell Karen hi for me and thanks for standing up for me, I'm sure the extra prayers have helped. Ab, I hope school is going well for you, haha, I know how it feels to be in the dorms, the food gets old that's why its so great to finally get your own apartment, hope you get my letter soon, I gave you some ideas of how to mix it up a little bit. Tell everyone hi for me. This is a shout out to Katie Matthews and Steph Brinton, thanks for your letters. Sorry I can't write back too fast but I love getting your emails, letters are coming soon. Katie your email made me laugh, I would suggest making a list to pass around to make sure that none of your students are allergic to anything else. Good luck with school, I'm sure the kids love you.

Well things are pretty good here. It's been extremely rainy as you can imagine. But no other hurricanes which is really good. We have been having a sort of rough week because we don't have tons of people to teach but we were able to find a few new people this week and we are starting to work more with less active members. We have so many amazing less active members and I know that maybe the reason we don't have investigators is so that we can focus on trying to find them and help them come back to church. The one investigator we do have is amazing! Nicole is the golden investigator of golden investigators. As she requested we talked about baptism on Saturday. The sister in our ward that met nicole at the church offices came with us. Wow, such an amazing lesson. Nicole told us that when she was at the baptism she felt the spirit so strong and when she heard the words in the confirmation "confirm you a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" she knew that that was her answer, she told us that she knew that "this is where I need to be". Nicole accepted a baptism date for October 30 its about two months away but we have to have time to teach her because she is only here on weekends because she goes to school during the week in an area where there are no missions right now. The most interesting and humbling thing happened. We prepared very well for the lesson but that day I don't know what was up but I was not teaching well. Every word that came out of my mouth came out wrong, I asked confusing questions, it was really weird. I was like wow, what is wrong with me today? When I got to that point I asked Hermana Colon to share her testimony or to share some experience. It's amazing how the spirit works. Because that day, nicole didn't need to hear my teach she needed to hear Hermana Colon. Hermana Colon shared the most amazing testimony and explained things that Nicole needed, and Hermana Colon didn't know but the spirit really guided her. It was a very humbling experience for me. The worst lesson I have probably taught on my mission, ended up being so amazing because the spirit was so strong, because we had a member there and because Nicole is truly prepared and had already decided that she wants to be baptized.

The next day we went to visit a member, and her son who is our age was baptized but is visiting another church right now. He was sort of argueing with his mom about doctrine when we came. He had a lot of doubts and he was in the mood to argue. But we ended up having an really amazing discussion in which we explained several basic doctrines. I know that the spirit was putting words in my mouth because I was saying things that I hadn't planned to say, in complete contrast to the day before my mind was clear and the words just came out. The spirit was really strong and he really stopped argueing and listened and I know that he felt the spirit. It really goes to show that we as missionaries really don't do that much. It isn't us that does the teaching its the spirit. There was a reason that I felt like everything came out all wrong when I opened my mouth on saturday and on sunday it all came out right. It was a very humbling experience.

Its awesome because Nicole called us Saturday afternoon a few hours after we left her house she was worried because she was looking at the calendar and saw that the 30th was a saturday and since the baptism she saw was on a sunday she wanted to call and double check to make sure it was on sunday. She's so awesome. Well her mom doesn't really like the idea that she is getting baptized since nicole has only been to church three times but Nicole is determined that she is going to do it. I've never seen anyone so excited to get baptized before. It's awesome. Sometimes the mission is hard. a lot of times the mission is hard. Even though we don't have a lot of people that we are teaching but thats okay. it really goes to show that there really are people that are prepared that are ready to hear the gospel.

Well just so you know, next week is transfers, who knows what will happen but there is a chance that p-day will be moved to monday or tuesday, just so you know.

Love you all. Have a great week!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hurricane Not Too Bad.

Hey Everyone,
Thanks for your emails. No worries; I am fine the hurricanes haven't hit hard in Puerto Rico.  We had to be inside at 6:30 but it didn't hit as hard as we thought it would. I'm not going to lie, I was nervous, having never been in a hurricane before and not being able to watch tv and see the details of the storm, but it was actually pretty tame. We stayed the night at a member's house and we were actually surprised becuase even though we got a lot of rain it wasn't as much as we thought and the winds weren't that strong. We lost power for about an hour or two but that's all. The most damage that we saw was a lot of branches from trees that were in the street but I'm not sure about other parts of Puerto Rico or the Carribean its pretty weird being completely cut off from the world we don't hear anything that is going on. So hopefully there isn't too much damage from the hurricanes. No worries, they make sure that we are inside and we have a really good supply of food and water. and the members and our leaders keep us updated on what's going on so we will know that there is a hurricane coming. Hopefully there won't be too many more it's hard to work and to find people when we have to cancel our appointments and the people aren't in the mood to talk when they are rushing to prep for the hurricane.

I'm sorry to hear that you aren't feeling well Erin. That's rough. Hopefully you get better soon. Tell Liz congratulations for me and you'll have to send me pictures for sure. Thanks for sending me Katie's address. Sounds like things are going well with school for everyone.  Rach, write me and let me know how school is going.

Things have been pretty good here. We are still teaching Nicole. She is amazing. It's hard because she is studying an hour away and we can only teach her on weekends but she is reading the Book of Mormon and she loves it. We asked her if she had read the Book of Mormon and she said yes but I haven't finished so we asked her how far she had gotten thinking that she didn't have time to finish the chapter that we had left, but really she meant the she hadn't finished the BOOK yet. She had read up until part way through 2 Nephi! That's a lot considering she is studying full time in the university and commuting. She came to church and brought her little sister and they stayed for a baptism afterwards of an 8 year old boy. She called us later that afternoon and asked if we had already planned what we were going to teach her on saturday. We asked why and she said that she wanted to know if we could teach her about baptism because she felt something really special at the baptism and she wanted to know why. So of course we said that there would be no problem in talking about baptism on saturday. She's really great.

Other than her we don't have a lot of appointments which has been hard but we are going to be really busy this week because the bishop has given us a new assignment to go find every single member on the ward list. We have ten names each week that we need to report back on becuase there are about 400 individuals. That doesn't sound like a lot but most of them don't have addresses or phone numbers that work because most people in Toa Alta only have PO box numbers or a highway with kilometer numbers but no house numbers. But we are on the search trying to use what little info we have and asking members and we are certain that this will help not only with reactivation but also to find other people to teach because many of these people have family members that aren't members.

Well anyway hope everything is going well at home and that work and school aren't too stressful.
 Love you all a ton!