Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Today is my one year anniversary in Puerto Rico

Hey Everyone, hope you are having a great week.

I'm sure you are you are all finishing up with school and about to enjoy a long weekend. We still don't know what our plans are for Thanksgiving; we've had several people invite us but we have some appointments too so we don't know where we will end up eating some turkey and pasteles for a little while. I'll be missing Thanksgiving at home, especially Mom's pies and yams with marshmallows and rolls. So enjoy for me! Happy Birthday Abby! Wow, tomorrow you are turning 19! I can't believe it. I hope you do something extremely fun. You'll have to tell me all about it. Tell everyone hi for me.

It's been a pretty good week. President has assigned a sister to be a lead trainer and she is visiting all the sisters in the mission and working with us. This last weekend she was here and we learned a ton. We found a few new families to teach. We are a little sad becuase Ana isn't going to be able to be baptized Saturday. We waited for her for over an hour last night to teach her the final lesson and go over the baptismal interview questions. She hasn't been answering her phone. She's been a little different lately and we can't figure out why. But we are praying hard that we are going to be able to get a hold of her. So we are praying hard that we can get a hold of her but even then we'll have to move her baptism date to another week because we feel like she's just not ready. But this sunday was really great. Jennifer our investigator that has been coming to church and had a baptism date has not been progressing much lately. Jennifer suffers from depression and with some situations that have been going on lately she has been so down she hasn't really been progressing. Well we offered a priesthood blessing and sunday after church the elder's quorum president and another member gave her a blessing. It was an amazing blessing. We went to her house the next day and she was so happy. I've never seen her so happy since we've been teaching her in the last month or so. She just couldn't stop smiling. Her whole countenance was different. She told us that she knows everything will be okay and it really helped her testimony. It was so great too to see her 11 year old daughter participate in the primary program. Even though she barely knew the songs she was up there. So we are really excited for them.

Other than that things here are pretty much the same. We are working hard finding people.

I can't believe it's almost Thanksgiving. I arrived in Puerto Rico, one year ago today, nervous about what it was going to be like. Even though I am far away and I miss you all a ton I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve here in Puerto Rico. I learn things everyday and even though it is extremely hard and there are good days and rough days I know this is where I am supposed to be. Seeing as tomorrow is Thanksgiving here are a few things I am grateful for:

The restored gospel. My entire life I have taken for granted the amazing blessing it is to be a member of this church. Even though I have always been grateful until my mission I never really came to appreciate it is as much as I do now. I can't imagine what my life would be without it. I know who I am. I know that my Heavenly Father has prepared a plan for me and for my family so that we can be together forever.

My family. Mom, Dad, Erin, Rachel and Abby. Thank you so much for everything. I won't ever be able to express how much I love you all. I have been so blessed to have grown up in a home with two amazing parents that love us and would do anything (and really DO anything) for us. I'm grateful for my three sisters that are such a great example to me. I look up to all of you, whether you are older or younger. You truly are my best friends.

I see all around me every day so many families that are so unhappy that don't have love in their homes, with so many problems. I am so grateful to have a loving family. We have our trials and our difficulties but I will never be able to express how grateful I am that Heavenly Father allowed me to have the great family that I have and that we have been blessed to grow up with the gospel in our home. Thanks to grandma, grandpa, aunts and uncles, cousins. I truly have been blessed to have a great family.

I'm grateful for my companion, Hermana Rodriguez. I learn from her every single day. She is such an example to me. She is the most humble person I know. I know that the reason we have been together for almost 6 months is because I have a lot of things to learn from her. She loves the people so much and has such a strong testimony of the gospel.

I'm grateful for the people here in Puerto Rico. Sure, you always run into people that just don't like you because you are a missionary and they want nothing to do with us. But for the most part the people here are so great. They'll do anything for you. I have met so many amazing people here that are such great examples to me. If I started to write about them I would never finish.

I am grateful for my health. Sure, I've had a few small problems here on the mission but I'm still able to get up in the morning and I'm grateful that I'm healthy and able to enjoy life.

I am extremely grateful that I have never really had to worry about temporal things such as food on the table or things to wear. I've been truly humbled to have several companions that have taught me to be grateful for that. I have had companions that live in one room homes with no running water and that have never even had a christmas present to open. They work hard in factories trying to make ends meet and are afraid to walk through the streets in their own neighborhood because of the violence. I am constantly amazed at how sheltered and blessed I have been to grow up where I have.

I am thankful for the priesthood. That through the priesthood we can receive the saving ordinances like baptism and temple ordinances to return and live with our families one day. Through the priesthood we can receive blessings of comfort and health. Through the priesthood our homes can be blessed immensely. I'm so grateful that I've grown up in a home with a father who is a worthy priesthood holder.

I could go on and on. I love you all a ton. I hope you all have a great week and a happy thanksgiving and a great birthday, Ab.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Hard Week

Thanks for the emails. I'm sure everyone is super tired between midnight harry potter showings, busy school schedules and all the work mom and dad have been doing around the house and in spring city. Wow, I really can't believe that this next week is Thanksgiving. It's weird to think that Abby will be turning 19! Babs, stop getting older you're making me feel old. I'm excited to read all of your stories that you are writing Erin, that's really cool that you got into the workshop I'm sure it will be a great experience.

So things here are good. Ana is progressing, she has stopped drinking coffee and we are preparing for her baptism on the 27th. As for the rest of our investigators it has been a little hard this week. We have found a lot of families but one of the downsides of teaching families is that sometimes one person is present the next time other people are present and its hard to help them progress at the same time. We have two families where we are actually just teaching their teenage kids because the parents are always busy. They think that it's good for their kids to listen to us but don't think they need it themselves. We are trying to find ways to get the whole family together so they can progress together. Nicole, who got baptized last month, is so amazing. She came out with us to visit some investigators last week and it was so great. She has a copy of Preach My Gospel and she studied up on the lesson before hand. It was really special to see that she is so excited about the gospel. A member told us she's always writing comments on facebook about the church and she's a member of groups like I'm a Mormon. She's was super excited about a video she found online about the new temple being built in Rome. It's great to see her so excited.

We had a really great zone conference this last week. It was completely focused on the Restoration. We watched the movie, Joseph Smith, Prophet of the Restoration. The spirit was really strong and even though I've seen it quite a few times I'm always really touched by that movie. I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude for all the sacrifices that Joseph Smith, his family and other early church members made. The trials that they had to go through, getting thrown from their homes, being tarred and feathered, imprisoned and much more. I couldn't help but thing of my own ancestors that were part of that group. So many people made so many sacrifices for the gospel. I'm been truly blessed to have grown up in a home with the gospel. I'm so grateful for the people that have sacrificed so much for me. I couldn't help but ask myself what am I willing to sacrifice so that other people can have the same blessings? Thanks so much Mom and Dad for allowing me to grow up in a home with the gospel and for always being such great examples to me.

So I still don't know about extending. The mission department apparently doesn't want to do extensions anymore. They are thinking about sending us home the transfer before our 18 month mark. President is trying to get us permission to extend. I really want to extend but I guess we'll see what happens. It's all really up in the air right now but I'll let you know.

Well have to go. Love you all a ton.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

One Year!

Thanks for your emails. So I guess Rach went be home when I get back from the mission. That is so weird. But that is really cool that you are going to do an internship. What type of internship is it? Where are you going to live? Maybe I'll have to go out to DC and visit you and while I'm at it try and visit some Big 4 offices while I'm there. I'm sorry you are still not feeling well, Er. Congrats once again on getting your article published. I can't even imagine being in the snow right now. Ít's so weird to think that at home there is snow on the ground. I can't believe thanksgiving is coming up soon. It's on your birthday Ab! It's just too weird to think how fast time is going by. I'm glad that you got the fence done in Spring City, I'm sure it looks great down there.

Well things here are good. Jennifer and Yillianette won't be baptized this month. Jennifer just isn't ready she has a lot of doubts and we really want her to have a testimony. But little by little they are progressing. Ana, is still preparing for baptism. We taught the Word of Wisdom last night and she has to stop drinking Coffee. She says she's been working on it for the last few weeks becuase she already knew that we don't drink coffee but she's just kept saying little by little. Things here are good nothing too huge has happened. We've found quite a few families this last week that we are really excited about. One family is really amazing. Juan, the Dad is reading the Book of Mormon like crazy. We went back for the first lesson and he had read the chapter we marked plus everything from the beginning until almost the end of first Nephi. He had a lot of doubts but he was also really excited about the book. At one point in the lesson he said if this book is really true why doesn't everyone know about it? Imagine, an ancient record that was found and published that sort of thing would be on the news and everyone would be so excited about it. Why haven't I ever heard about this book before? he asked. If only everyone was that excited about it. So we'll see what happens when we visit them tonight.

So yeah, things are going well. As I said we both passed our year mark this last week. Sadly we weren't really able to celebrate it. Our plan was to go buy a cake and candle and take a picture or something. Cakes here are so expensive! A little tiny cake that was probably 6" was $15. We were going to get an oven becuase we currently just have a stove top. The office was going to bring us one but we haven't got it yet so we'll see what we can do for when we hit our one year mark here in Puerto Rico. So here's a little lesson in Puerto Rican vocabulary. Cake here is not pastel, it is bizcocho. Pastel for Puerto Ricans are what we know as tamales. If you come here and ask for a pastel don't be surprised when instead of a cake you get a greyish brown mush filled with meat. Many missionaries become quiet dissapointed when they see it. It's made from what we call bananas and they call guineo. haha I'm going to speaking weird spanish when I get home.

Well anyway. Hope things are going well. Love you all a ton!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Great Week!

Hey everyone,

So things are going well here I feel like the time is going by so fast I feel like I just wrote yesterday. I'm excited to read Erin's article that was published. I laughed really hard when I pictured Mom and Dad in the Grand Canyon sliding of the end of the bed because the historic hotel's floors were so uneven. Thanks for the pictures! I'm glad that everything worked out with the tree falling on the cars. I'm sorry that was such a hassle for you.
 It's so crazy to think that it's already November. Hope everyone had fun on Halloween! Halloween was a regular work day for us there were a few kids trick or treating but not very many because it was rainy. Here they give money to little kids here. The kids go up to the door and yell, "Halloween! Trick or Treat! Dame chavos y no mani" Mani means peanuts but they say like money so its like a play on words. Chavos is the slang word for money like the word cash. Anyway poor things got wet because it was pouring rain. We had to be home at 7:00 because I guess people sort of go crazy at night. They egg cars and people and do other things so we were home early that day.

Saturday Denis got baptized. It was really special his family was really emotional. Jennifer and Yillianette accepted baptismal dates for the 20th and Jennifer came to the baptism and she really loved it. Ana Rodriguez also accepted a baptismal date for the 20th so we are really excited we had a really good week. She told us that she has been asking and asking to get an answer to know if its true we talked about recognizing answers to prayers that an answer isn't like a giant lightening bolt but that it comes through feelings. I think she realized that she has received her answer already and she knows that it's true. She accepted a baptism date as well. So we are really excited for her.

This is a shout out to everyone, we need unique and creative ideas to teach the basic gospel principles to children. For example games, or object lessons that you have used in family home evening or on the mission to teach the restoration, plan of salvation etc. So if you have any good ideas I would love to here we are trying to focus more on teaching so that the whole family can understand and be interested.

Wow, tomorrow will mark one year since I entered into the MTC in Provo. It's so crazy to think about that. Since Hermana Rodriguez's one year mark is friday we are planning on doing something fun to celebrate. It's so weird to think about that. Anyway have a great week all of you!

 Love you all a ton!