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.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Conference Week

Hey Everyone,

Thanks for the emails. Hope everyone had a good week. Good luck with school which I am sure is starting to wind down.

Well its been a great week! A really hard week but going to conference made it all worth it. Wow, we worked so hard to be able to go and let me tell you, we really saw some miracles. We had to complete our foundation (140 contacts and 20 lessons) to be able to go but we had to do it by friday night. But they also told us that even though we had interviews and saturday and sunday was conference that we would still be expected to have our family foundation (140 families contacted and 20 family lessons) by sunday night. Well let me just say that on a normal week we have never been able to complete that goal. Its really hard because we live in the countryside and there just aren't that many people like in the city. So we knew that we would have permission to go to conference but if we went and enjoyed conference saturday but didn't have our goals on sunday then that would be bad. So we didn't know what to do. But we decided that we would pray really hard and then just work really hard, that the Lord would bless us. So we woke up early friday did our studies early and were out the door by 9:30. We decided to go to Las Piedras but on our way our we saw a supermarket where normally not that many people go, that day it was FULL of families. Then we went to Las Piedras. We went taught two lessons in the morning and then we went to an elementary school where we have talked to many people before but that day, there were a ton of Moms watching their kids on the playground during recess (they do that here becuase there isn't much playground supervision) I've never seen so many people at that school, me and my companion split up and started talking to people. In about 30 or 45 min we were able to not only talk to many people I was able to teach 3 lessons to families. I kept looking over my shoulder wondering when my companion was going to come join me and to my surprise she was still talking to people which was weird because I was taking so long.  Well when we finally met up together she had taught 4 family lessons! 7 in total and it was only 1 o'clock. Well long story short, we almost completed all the contacts and lessons we had to have for the entire week and we had almost completed them before saturday.

Anyway, It was a great day. Heavenly Father really prepared a way for us to be able to be in conference. When we are obedient and we work the hardest we can he will provide a way.

We had a lot more success later on including two less active member lessons with two ward members that accompanied us. The best part of the day is when we went to teach a less active family. There are two grandparents, their son and grandson who is 19. The 19 year old is returning to church but the dad and grandparents aren't very strong. The son had an accident a few years back and he has a lot of problems with his health. He wanted a blessing. The member who was with us invited the grandpa and son of the man to participate in the blessing. I imagine it was years since they've done that or if they ever have. Well the 19 year old never has. It was so amazing to feel the spirit as those two men participated in giving a blessing as the 19 year old who was a little rebelous before and who is turning his life around was able to learn how to give his father a blessing. It was a really amazing experience.

Wow, conference was amazing! I learned so much and felt the spirit so strong. Some of my favorite talks included, President Uchtdorf's about the road to Damascus, the one about Testimony by Elder/President Cecil O. Samuelson (which I have to say was a little weird because I felt like I was back at BYU for a moment hahaha) and of course I loved President Monson's. Well I really liked all of them, cause they were all great. So many of them I just thought, "if only that less active or investigator that needs to hear this was here right now".

The latest news is that right now my poor companion is pretty miserable becuase she fell off her bike. Did I tell you that we are using bikes now? I don't think so. We still have cars but everyone in the mission got bikes too. So we are using them as much as we can. Its not too bad except that we arrive at people's houses pretty gross and sweaty especially with the helmets that we wear. But its good exercise and we talk with more people. But anyway, poor thing has a leg that's pretty swollen and bruised and so we are back to the car for a few days til she gets better.

Well, love you all tons! Have a great week.