Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Hey everyone! It was so good to talk you on Christmas! I'm so sorry it was so short. It always goes by so fast. But it was so good to talk you all I wish I could have had time to talk with you all more, especially with the girls. But that's the mission right? Well we had a pretty good christmas. We basically worked the whole day. We went to old people's homes and hospitals to sing to people and we visited some investigators and recent converts.

The sisters in Arecibo came to spend Christmas with us and that was fun. It's been a pretty slow week, as you can imagine everyone has been celebrating so the work has been a little slow but that's alright. We are finding families! We are working a family that is pretty big, they are grandparents and grandchildren and they are really amazing. I know that things will start picking up soon. I feel like I don't really have any super fun stories becuase I just talked to you the other day. But I'm trying to think... Last night we had an activity with all of Ponce zone. All of the missionaries in our stake went to President Alvarado's parents' house because they are from Ponce. President and his entire family was there. They fed us dinner and we had a testimony meeting. It was really fun. The plan was to afterwards go caroling to some people in their neighborhood but the Ponce sisters had an appointment and President said that they should go because the appointment was more important but they didn't bring their bikes and it was far away so he told us to take them in our car that to divide up so I went with one of the sisters to the appointment and my companion went with the other sister to do contacts in Walmart. Wow, what an amazing experience we had. It was a family that has been recently reactivated. The sisters have been working with them for about 4 months now and they have about 1 month to be active in the church. They were doing a family home evening and the mom gave the lesson. The spirit was so strong as the mom taught the lesson, everything perfectly prepared, she was super nervous but taught the most amazing lesson. I really would not have believed that a month ago this family was completely inactive. She told us how they are preparing to go to the temple and be sealed as a family next year. The sister from Ponce who I know really well because we have about the same time in the mission, expressed to me a little bit of frustration because they haven't had a baptism in a very long time. She felt frustrated because they weren't seeing a lot of success. As we left, we were both so excited, I told her Hermana, being there tonight with that family was better than a baptism. Thats a complete family that is preparing to go to the temple and their oldest son wants to serve a mission. It was a really cool experience. That's what Puerto Rico needs, families like that.

Well I am sending a few pictures of us from the Christmas conference, us in the Yunque national forest, and more.  They probably won't all fit so I'll explain more in each email.

First we hiked about a kilometer and a half to this lake and had a spiritual thought. This is me and my companion Hermana Angel.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! I know that I said I wouldn't be writing any emails this week but we are at the office right now and they allowed us a few minutes to write emails. We are having a two day christmas conference and it has been really great so far. This morning we started early and we went to the Yunque National Rain Forest. We went hiking there and then we to eat lunch at the outlet malls. I don't know if you have ever seen those movies on YouTube that they call flash mob. Where people go into the food court at the mall or in the subway in New York and start little by little singing and people join in until a whole bunch of people are singing. We did that. We were all sitting there eating and one of the sisters started to sing and then little by little we all stood up and joined in and went to the center of the food court and sang a few songs it was pretty cool. Tonight we are going to have a talent show and eat dinner then tommorrow we are going to have a more formal conference with leaders here in Puerto Rico and we are going to have a testimony meeting. I will talk to you Christmas night! I can't wait. I am so excited.

Things are going good here. It is a little different working in Adjuntas and many of our investigators aren't progressing. It's been hard for my companion because she has been working with these people for so long but we are trying find families. I know that things will start looking up. Anyway I can't write much there are so many missionaries that are going to try and use the computers. I just wanted to say hi really quickly. We'll talk on christmas!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Freezing in Adjuntas

Yes, that's right. I am freezing. I got transferred to Adjuntas which is in the middle of the island in the mountains and it is the coldest place in all of Puerto Rico. During the day it is in the 70s but at night it gets down to the fifties. Luckily I have a few sweaters and I am pulling out the jacket I brought from home and haven't since the MTC. But really? Who thought that I would be freezing cold on a tropical island. haha. I actually resorted to warming my socks in the microwave the other night before going to bed. You know how I've always had problems with my feet being a little cold. haha. Adjuntas is in the mountains. That's right. Puerto Rico has mountains believe it or not. Some places are a little hard to get to and park the car where we can and start walking. I am in shock that there are so many little houses back in there. We live in town close to the church. The town has a really nice plaza that is all lit up at night and has very little here, one super market a few small pharmacies and a Burger King. But Ponce is a very large city about 1/2 hour away that's where we meet for our district meetings.

Still can't send pictures I don't know why my camera won't send them but I am going to start taking pics on my other memory card and I'll send a bunch next week. our area covers Adjuntas and Jayuya which is a small branch. One day a week we go to work in Utuado which is another branch but president wants us to work there one day a week becuase there are no missionaries there right now. We visit that branch one sunday a month. The people here are actually quite different from the other areas I have been . Until now I have never really served in country. The branches are small and everyone is very humble. Some of our investigators have little education and some don't know how to read which makes teaching a little different. Whereas in the other areas I have been almost everyone is evangical, pentacostal or many different types of christian churches most people here are catholic. That makes things different too. But the people are really great and I am excited to work here.

We have two baptisms schedule for the 1st of January. It is a couple that lives in Utuado. They are really great. They are so humble. He doesn't know how to read and he is quite a bit older than she is. She reads to him and they are so excited about the gospel. They are going to be married on Christmas and then baptized on the first so that will be great.

My new companion is Hermana Angel. She is also from El Salvador. My third companion from there. I'm here second companion. She's been out 4 1/2 months and spent her whole time here in Adjuntas. She is super cute, is about 4 feet tall, speaks pretty good english actually and I am helping her learn more. We have a lot in common. She was studying accounting before the mission, she's genuinely sweet and just happy all the time. Sometimes a little unsure of herself. It's been sort of a hard week for her not being with her trainer and having to show me around the area. I'm not much help because I don't know the members or the investigators. But we've had a pretty good week.

I'm so excited to talk to all of you on Christmas. I will be probably calling at 7:00 our time here. I can't wait to talk to all of you. I hope that finals go well. Good luck Ab on finishing your finals, and Rach too. I know that it will all turn out just fine. I hope you enjoy this week leading up to christmas. Tell everyone hi for me. Love you all a ton.

Hermana Barker

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Leaving Arecibo

Thanks for the emails. I'm sorry to hear that you are still not feeling well, Erin. That's no fun at all. Good luck with finals coming up. I'm sure you will all do great. Thanks for sending the package Mom. I haven't seen it yet but I will be going to the office tonight I'm sure it is on the way. I never did get the Zyrtec but don't worry about albuterol inhaler I'm fine with those I haven't used them at all on the mission. Christmas time is near again in Puerto Rico. It's getting a little bit colder, I actually sleep with a blanket at night, imagine that. Everyone decorates their houses a ton here. Like the states but with more inflatable santas and cartoon caracters.

So it's official I am leaving Arecibo. New area, new companion but I don't know any details yet. We have a training for all the sisters in the mission tonight and they will tell us there. It's always really hard to say goodbye to people each time there is a transfer. It will be weird to be with a different companion, it's been so long that I've been with Hermana Rodriguez. But I'm excited to see what will happen. I have been meaning to send photos these last few weeks but I kept forgeting to bring the cord. Well this last week we went to print off photos at the machine at Walmart and now my card and Hermana Rodriguez' can't be recognize in the computer. It won't let me send. I don't know why. I'll try next week if not I'll send some prints that I printed off by mail. Sorry.

So anyway it's been a pretty good week. We've been trying to find families. To be honest we really haven't had a ton of investigators but we found quite a few families that we are pretty excited about. This last week we decided to fast so that we would be able to find families to teach. Hermana Rodriguez had to make change so that she could pay her fast offering so saturday night just before heading home we went to a grocery store to contact people and so she could buy something small to make change. As we were standing in line we started talking a man and his little girl. Hermana Rodriquez asked him where he was from becuase she could tell that he didn't have a Puerto Rican accent. He said that he was from Mexico and his family had just moved here three weeks ago from New York. As he left I quickly gave him a card and stood by the door of the store talking to him. We talked with him as we left the store and we left him a card. He said he would call us. Well we were a little dissapointed because they were a really great family and usually when they say we'll call you it means no. Well half an hour later we received a phone call from a new york cell phone. We picked it up but couldn't hear anything and tried to call back but the call wouldn't go through. We thought could it be the man we just met in the store? Well yesterday I received a phone call. He said that he had been trying to call for several days but we never picked up (we are waiting on a new phone from the office because ours has some problems). Anyway he wanted to hear more. I am super excited about this family. It just goes to show that Heavenly Father will put people in our path we should never lose the opportunity to talk with someone.

Leaving Arecibo was hard. It's hard to say goodbye to everyone. One of the hardest was Nicole. Wow, she's amazing. She has decided to go on a mission! She still has a few years but she decided that she is going and is starting a mission fund. She prayed for the longest time to know how to tell her parents that she was going to be putting money aside for a mission. To her surprise they were somewhat okay with it as long as she paid and as long as she promises to finish her Bachelor's degree and do her master's when she gets back. She was so excited to tell us. She is studying Preach My Gospel and came to teach with us again this week. She has started to have Family Home Evenings at her house. This is a huge deal because her parents were seperated for awhile and are back together but she told us that she has seen a big change in her home and in the attitude of her parents. Right now her parents don't want the missionaries to come by, they say their not ready for that but said yes to family night. Well, Nicole decided that the lessons each week will be from Preach My Gospel! Haha she's going to teach the doctrine from the mission lessons to them. We'll see how that goes but it's so great to see how excited she is to share the gospel with her family. She's so great. And to hear her talk about how much she wants to serve a mission put almost to the point of tears.

Well sorry I can't send pictures. I'll try next week and I'll send some printed out ones in the mail.

Love you all a ton!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Transfer next week.

Hey thanks for the emails! And thanks for the picture from Thanksgiving. Tell everyone hi for me. Sounds like the weather is crazy! I'm going to freeze when I get home, whenever that is. Haha, i'll let you know when I find out. President still doesn't know I think. Good luck with school everyone, especially on your packet Erin and all those cover letters, Rach. Why do you have to write so many? I'm a little confused about that. Well we had a pretty good thanksgiving here. We worked as normal but we ate as well. We went to a members house at night for dinner and our duenos brought us up some food. It was nice because we really just a had good sized plate so we weren't too full. Lets just said that the thanksgiving here is a little better. I missed your pie mom. But that's okay.

Well anyway, it's sort of been a rough week for us. Ana and the member that invited her both got offended because the member wasn't worthy to baptize her. They both got offended and we haven't been able to get ahold of her since a week ago sunday. Neither of them will answer phone calls from us or members and aren't ever home either. So that was pretty hard for us. We've had a hard week trying to find people. Since it was a holiday most of lessons cancelled and we had a pretty hard week. But that happens right? We just keep moving forward. It's crazy to think that it's already December. The holidays here are already in full swing. Puerto Rican christmas music in the streets and Puerto Ricans love to decorate with christmas lights and inflatable things in front of their houses. Hermana Rodriguez is always so surprised because no one does that in her country. PS if you are going to send her Mail address it to Iris Rodriguez Vazguez. There are more than one Hermana Rodriguez in our mission.

Well anyway wish I had some more cool stories to tell you. I'll try and send you some photos next week when I have more time to upload them. Sorry we are short on time and I spent a lot of time reading all the letters that I got from you all last week and this week.

 Love you all a ton.