Kylie’s Last Letter.
Subject: Soon to Return with Honor!
Wow, thanks for all of your wonderful letters! I got your letter early this morning Mom, and it was awesome! Thanks so much! It meant a lot. It was some wisdom that I needed to hear.
It's been quite the week of course, never a dull moment. Esmeralda is going through a hard time, and is really sick. Actually needs a surgery. She finally told us why, and it's awful. It's results of being tortured as a child. It's worse from the norm. It's awful, I can't even write about it. She's scared for the surgery, because they gave her odds. They're good. 79% that everything will go great. The other 21% not so great, she could end up in a coma. So.... but she's pressing forward with a lot of faith. She received a priesthood blessing, and hopefully she'll be able to get the surgery soon.
What else? Oh, I will have a funny story for you about a poor guy who called yesterday and asked me to be his girlfriend. Woah, a little soon don't ya think? No, for once though it was actually a really good guy. Thank goodness for companions to help you say the right thing. :) He's the son of Mari, our investigator, I don't know if you remember her, I haven't talked about her in a while. I never picked up on it this whole time, but apparently he's been waiting till I was done being a missionary to ask me. He's the shyest person ever, so we had to have tact. There's one thing I didn't think I'd be dealing with when I woke up yesterday.
We had lots of good lessons. Now I'm to the good-bye phase of it all, and there are some people I just do not want to say good-bye too! We'll see Marquetta and fam, The Haro's, Martin and Felipe, and Greysi and Claudia tonight. Oh boy. Pray for me. I'm doing my best to just make them all happy "see ya later's" mainly because it's not about me, but their progression (well that mainly applies to Claudia). It's difficult, that's just all there is to it. But thank goodness for Facebook! Keeping in touch with people is the one reason to use fb again - haha.
And then tomorrow morning is transfer meeting. Usually I have to there 2 hours early for leadership training, or trainers meeting beforehand, but I'm free tomorrow! Sis Burns and I are playing a really pretty arrangement of "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" for actual transfer mtg. Then everyone else gets a new companion, but not me! I'll give my go home testimony. I'll have my interview with president in there sometime. We all do a session at the temple tomorrow night, then dinner and testimony mtg at the mission home. It's cool cause since I helped out Sis Wall and made that go home dinner once, so I kinda know what goes down :) She makes it all very fancy :) Anyway, then weighing suitcases, up super late... and on the plane early Thursday morning! Well not early, but we leave early, anyway! So that's what I'll be up to for the next two days!
I guess I have a spiritual gift to stay focused and so I haven't thought much about home, so all of a sudden today I need to pack, and it's like it's just suddenly.... here. It's time. So I now have to start making myself thinking about home to be excited. Getting all y'all's emails really helped and I'm so excited to see you! Today is p-day, but we'll just be seeing people! Oh, and packing. We went and played this morning in the Care center, and that was fun. :) I can not believe it was 4 degrees there. Until Friday, it was an average of 75 here, day or night last week. So humid, water was just packed in under so much cloud cover. Unless you've been in it, I don't know how to describe it. We were out talking to people at like 8:30 at night, and it was stuffy and warm!! But today it's cold :) Like COLD! Like 40! So I'm really in for it. My skin gets like instantly dry, so I'm probably gonna need some Aquifor - haha.
We went to our favorite Mexican restaurant to hear the Mariachi and invited a bunch of people. A way to do one last thing, and we called it an early b-day celebration for me, which means at one point the mariachi put this huge sombrero on my head and sang this awesome song. It was super fun, and Sis Burns played with them. We have a ton of good pics that Martin took... but I'll just send you one or two and show you there rest in two days :)
I've changed in so many ways these last 18 months, and I feel so grateful to be the recipient of the promise of the Lord. He truly has made my heart new as I've given everything to Him. I'll never stop. Even though I have a little fear of the unknown, I have faith that this will just be a jumping off point for the rest of forever. I'm so grateful for you all, because I know you'll be patient with me as I adjust back. I promise to do my best! And the Lord will help me. Wanna hear a funny story? The other night I was praying about what's going on in life right now, and a scripture popped into my head in Proverbs. I thought my mind was just wandering. Plus I didn't know the reference, and revelation usually doesn't work like that. Anyway, yesterday morning I woke up with it still in my head! So I look it up, and what does the first part of the verse say? "She is not afraid of the snow." Hahahaha. I'm totally serious. I testify that God has a sense of humor, and that He answer's prayers, usually in very unique ways, and we have to be watching for it. I will not be afraid of the snow, or of what life is bringing me. I know it is what God wants me to do, and so I will. I read Alma 26 this morning, I consider it Ammon's homecoming address. There are so many commonly quoted verses there, but I found some this morning that I hadn't noticed before. In talking to his companions about the people they worked with during a 14 year mission (I thought being in Baton Rouge for a year was long :), Ammon wrote:
"Behold, the field was ripe, and blessed are ye, for ye did thrust in the sickled, and did reap with your might, yeah, all the day long did ye labor; and behold the number of your sheaves! And they shall be gathered into the garners, that they are not wasted." (verse 5)
In the next verse he talks about how they will remain strong. That is my hope for the people I've worked with! But I won't be here anymore as an instrument in the Lord's hands to labor among them. However verse 7 speaks to that, and is what really touched my heart this morning:
"But behold, they are in the hands of the Lord of the harvest, and they are his, and he will raise them up at the last day."
I know that all of us are in the hands of the Lord. He cares for each of us personally. The person coming who will take my place has been well prepared with unique experiences that will serve her well to help my dear branch family with the experiences and challenges that are coming up in their lives. Heavenly Father knows all. He knows because He knows us perfectly. He knows how we acted in the pre-earth life, from the moment we were created, He knows how we've acted here, and what each has been through, and thus He uses us to help each other. He knows how it will work out, and how we will each grow from each thing, if we accept it. When we are His hands here on earth, we place ourselves, and those we love and serve, in His hands.
I know the Savior lives, and that He in fact is not far away, but that we can truly get to know Him if we choose too. I've begun too and I'm so excited for the rest of my life to continue. Only through that relationship will I be able to live up to the title of being a daughter of the most High King. I look forward to returning to Him one day, with honor. I testify this is the Lord's work. I know because I've been privileged to work with Him.
With lots and lots and LOTS of Love! Signing out for the last time as your dear and faithful,
P.S. Can't wait to see you all in TWO days! Invite whoever you want! our theme for the transfer has been, "go big or go home" and now I figure I'm going home, so I might as well go big! I mainly say this because I got an email from Emily Hull... and I'm not sure I think she might want to come. Plus I just want to see Everyone!!!!!!!!!!!
P.P.S. I'm totally about to go give a Book of Mormon to this librarian that I've seen here a million times. Cool right? The nerves never go away... oh man. why is that? But! It could change his life.... :) It did mine, so why not?
Well, forewarning, I'll probably be short today. The greatest thing ever that happened this week is that Tanya was baptized and confirmed. Wow. She had a great baptismal interview on Thanksgiving, and then was baptized Saturday. She was so beautiful! We actually got her one of the really flowy gowns from the temple so that she was comfortable over her very big tummy :) She was so happy. She came out of that font with the biggest smile ever! When we went into the dressing room and I asked her how she felt, she said, "wet!" haha. After she changed she told me she felt so clean, like she wasn't sure how to explain it. I couldn't help but think of the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants: "And if so be that you should labor all your days (mission) in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him (her) in the kingdom of my Father!" That pretty much sums up my week :)
It hit me yesterday that this is pretty much my last week. I have this week, next Monday, then p-day Tuesday to pack, Wednesday meetings and temple, go home interview and everything, then my flight is early Thursday. So I shared my testimony with my precious little branch here, all 18 that were in sacrament:) Can you believe I've been here 11 months?! Craziness.
I'm having a hard time making sense of any of the thoughts I have about my mission. How could I possibly sum all of that into words? 18 months of working 12-16 hours a day completely devoted to others and to my own studies? People want to ask me what I've learned, or what was the most powerful, or most difficult, etc. I don't know! Everything! haha. Sis Burns and I were talking about not getting comfortable but working really hard together right to the end, to keep pushing, keep searching, keep consecrated. Trying to be creative, even though we feel like we've tried it all. I feel like I'm at a total high point, but almost to the point where I'm plateauing. Like I'm comfortable, spiritually, mentally, socially. I noticed it this last week, and I told Sis Burns the other day, and she said, "well, maybe that's not a bad thing." She might be right. Maybe that's another reason there's time limits to missions. Not that I've learned everything, but just that I guess it's time to go somewhere else so I keep climbing in my progression. And that this 18 months has been the jump start to the rest of that progression forever. Just an idea. It'll just be really hard when I have to do it without this name tag, when I'm told I can take it off. I'll lose my superpowers! Haha, no.
Well, I'm going to go. Thank you so much for your emails. I really appreciated your insights, Will, and your words Dad. Thank you.
Lots of Love,
P.S. Is there snow there? It was kinda coldish last week some days (like 40’s and I was freezing!) But this morning it was warm!! 70 outside and stuff inside so we finally turned the air on!
P.P.S. Mom, did you just love getting that text?! Fun, huh? :) Sis Wall was getting the mission home all decked out for Christmas so we helped. There's one thing I didn't think I'd ever be doing on a mission - haha. But it was a really nice break.
I'm doing great today! Why not, right? It really is all a choice. Haha, and I'm just doing good. It's super super grey out though, and so cold. Well, ok, the car said it's 52 degrees out. People are out and about in their boots and heavy coats. You'd think they're prepping for a big winter storm haha. Although.... I'm pretty cold too, and I never really was last year. So, I guess I've now acclimated to Louisana and am a total wimp. Please bring a coat and boots to the airport!! Mainly boots because I have totally worn my shoes through and I will be falling all over the place! Haha
I'm tired. I want to take a nap, but I've never done that on p-day, so why start now, right? I'll sleep in a couple weeks. And I'll probably sleep FOR a couple weeks, haha. Instead, we're making "I'm a Mormon t-shirts." But in Spanish, I'm sure. There would be so many neat things to do, like zoos and plantations but it just doesn't work out as missionaries here without members that want to go too. So we'll do that one day. Actually the "soy mormon" t-shirts were my idea and i'm pretty stoked about that - haha. Usually just anything to let loose a little bit and be normal people. We have some new elders in our district, and I think it'll be really good for them.
So Tanya lives with her aunt and uncle (members, less actives) and their 3 kids and I've known them for ages.. Her aunt is Guatemalan, her uncle is American (hmmm 1/2 Mexican I believe). He served in the army and has PTSD and a whole bunch of problems. He came to church last Sunday (8 days ago). We were so happy! We'd just had the b-day party at their house and he was happy and doing well. Well, then he found us at church, was really angry, and said we weren't ever allowed in his house again. No one knows why. The elders have been working with him for as long as I can remember, and he did this once to them a month ago. He's just sick I guess. We thought it would blow over like most mood swings. It's such a long story, but basically it didn't. A few days later though we just went because we couldn't get ahold of Tanya. She totally had a melt down, super stressed out. Totally dependent on her aunt and uncle, no money, bored, hates not working, stressed about her uncle, and 8 month pregnant hormones, etc. Said she was thinking she'd look for a different church because all these obstacles were being put in her way. Standing there on her doorstep hearing that was really hard. Really hard, super flashbacks to what happened in March with her. But I just stood there and listened. I could say a lot of things about the feelings that went through me. Like ice, mostly. And a lot of months of heartache from investigator's choices, and really just wondering if the Lord's plan was really to have me stick it out for one more. But "keep calm, wait, and carry on" is a motto that's been working out pretty good for me. So we listened. We comforted, read out of DyC 121, I shared an experience about priesthood blessings. She wanted one but was scared about her Bro Wilkerson (her uncle) coming home. Lots of drama. Anyway, she never did call for or accept a blessing, that was Tuesday. Covenants.. .man they bring lots of pre-opposition.
Two days we went back, and made the elders go with us since it seems like bro Wilkerson has really gone off the deep end. We're still not allowed in the house, but Tanya answered and was doing loads better. The dad of the baby stepped up and is going to help her out financially. Huge blessing. She was able to use her aunts car and come to the church bldg that night for a lesson. It went great. We showed her her teaching record to help her understand why her baptism needed to be the 30th instead of the 23rd (since we didn't teach her for a like a week). She understood everything. Her comment about looking for a different church had me freaked out that she understands absolutely nothing about authority. But after the lessons we've had this weekend, I can see it was the stress talking. Her faith, desire, and testimony is there. It's just soooo fragile and baby. So we've taught her everything, and this week we'll just be focusing on strengthening her testimony and understanding of things like Joseph Smith. We made really cool baptism invites for her, which she really likes. We gave her some to give to her friends (some of whom I met way back before). She accepted them but then finally told us yesterday that she doesn't really have any friends anymore to give them to. I think her pregnancy, and new way of living has lost her a lot of friendships. We're trying soooo hard to get the branch to just envelope her in. Sis Haro, our RS president, is having us and Tanya over for FHE tonight and I think that'll help Tanya heaps. She's just in such a bad environment with her tios. Her aunt is technically baptized, but I feel she might as well be a nonmember. She was baptized 3 years ago, and I'm scared of that being Tanya. But we've done everything to teach her and prepare her well, that she really is prepared and meets requirements from Doctrine and Covenants. I'm really excited! It's the first baptism I've ever planned :) Also, remember how Sally Mandis sent me that extra hymno last Christmas? I've kept it this whole year here in BR, looking for someone, convert, member, returning member, someone to give it to. I never did. But now I do :) I'm so excited! It's Saturday at 6! :) She asked Elder Andrews (my District leader right now, was in my MTC district, and works with the Wilkersons) to baptize her. So cool! Who'd a known when we were in the MTC. She's super pregnant.... so hopefully he's doing his pushups so he can help her back out of that water - haha.
We did see Claudia and Greysi this week. Greysi ran for Chief Justice of her elementary school, so they had us over to help her with her poster. She lost unfortunately. :) I was in 4th grade too when I ran for secretary. They didn't come to church though. Claudia will probably take some more years to crack, but when she does, I don't care what it takes, I will walk cross country to be at her baptism!
We met this really awesome Colombian couple at English class. They are just the sweetest. We met and taught them Thursday in class. After, I asked them about arrepas, a Columbiano food I'd heard about. Then they had us over last night to teach us to make them. It was awesome! I wish I had a picture. I decided I'd like to go to Columbia, apparently it's quite diverse there. Columbia was really the only country I hadn't worked with people from. They asked tons of questions about Mormons... we'll see what happens :)
I did get an email from Bro Kingsford. My topic is, "How does the Lord prepare people to receive the gospel?" I'll probably just talk about hurricanes :) hurricanes humble and prepare people. Haha, no I dont' know.
The family of 8 didn't come to church, and didn't keep their apt for the piano lesson on Tuesday, or for the lesson last night. So....who knows. Pretty typical. Maybe this week. Their names are Jacob y Rafaela.
I'm actually super super proud to be able to say I've kept a journal for every day of my mission. Three of them, actually :) My challenge sometimes is making it more than a glorified calendar book. I always just seem to write about the people and sometimes forget to infuse my own thoughts. But I guess the people are my thoughts. Anyway, it's a great treasure. :) I hope they help someone someday.
Wow Mom, you sure have done a ton of work on the blog. Thanks so much. Do you link it to my fb so friends can see it? Hopefully these letters of ours have been a missionary effort in and of themselves. That's the hope anyway!
I'm still studying the New Testament and Jesus the Christ. Have been for ages. This week I read in John about the man who had been blind since birth that the Savior healed. I didn't know that story very well! I thought it was an amazing account. We rarely know what happens to healed persons after the miracle. The day after I read that we were at the library, and there was a new bible video! (new Mormon messages or bible videos are always like Christmas to us :) And the bible video was just of that. It was awesome!!!! So whoever is home for FHE tonight, you should read that account and watch the video. The bible glosses over things like, "and his sight was restored." And you have to take a minute to think about it to realize the change in that mans life. The video clip really helps with that. The link is http://www.mormonchannel.org/bible-videos. I hope you're able to at least watch the video. It's great!
I hope you have a great work. Take care of that wrist Dad :) No shoveling snow! (if there is any :)
Con mucho amor,
Kylie will be home on 12/12/13 at 4:02 at the Spokane airport. We welcome anyone to join us in greeting her who would like to be there. She will be going from Baton Rouge to Atlanta then through SLC on Delta 1507 about 2:20-3:15pm, then on to Spokane. Thanks to everyone for the many acts of love and kindness for Kylie these past 18 months!
I love you all bunches!! Like bunches of bananas!! More! But really, this is from last p-day. We were just walking along, and I see this vine I want to swing on. I look up and there's bananas!! It got cold for like 2 days last week (ya know-50's and 60's) and I could handle wearing the tights I'm supposed to wear, but these last 2 days it's been humid again. Last night at nine it was still 78 degrees when we got home. So it's snowing there, but we're still using our AC here. :) I better enjoy it while I can!!
These guys are from the Louisiana Gospel Fellowship from last week. That pianist was playing the piano, a bass guitar, and singing at the same time! When we went to take this 2nd picture, he yelled "missionaries!" and gave two thumbs up - haha. :) Such happy people :) That was the first Veteran's day program I've been to where they served jumbalaya :) Well, also the first that was under a freeway... and there was gospel music. It was great!
Where would I even start to tell you about my week?! I get tired just thinking about. I know so many people in this city, and so many amazing things are happening with people that I've known but never had the chance to tell you about. One day I'll have all the stories for you! And we'll all have time for me to tell you. I'll include details about a few people, but to suffice it to say, great things are happening! (and ok, same old petty and dis-functional things in this little branch, but I'm over that haha) I just love these people!
We got to see Martin and Esmeralda in the temple for the first time this week doing baptisms! Martin did the work for his dad, and it was SO AWESOME!!! And Esme, all in her white and excited. They were the only two from the branch to come to do baptisms, bless their hearts.
Claudia - I haven't meant to ignore your questions about her, just nothing that great to report. Although, they did come to church yesterday, so that's good.
Another day this week, everything went bad. We saw Judy, but then her husband came home and was super rude. Other people cancelled saying they weren't home (right after we happened to see them walk into their apartment haha - awkward), etc. But we wanted to make the best of the day and we have this favorite Mexican restaurant that we love (where we went for Sis Burns b-day and I got her to play in the mariachi), so we just started inviting a bunch of people that we know. They all came and it was so fun!! This super super super inactive came. His name is Lazaro, he's from Cuba. He used to be in the branch presidency and then all this stuff happened. Long dramatic story like usual in this branch. So anyway, he loves music and when we did the musical fireside in August we got him to come. He loved it, and we really were able to connect with him. Since then the Elders have been able to see and work with him - until recently. The Elders are new so we're trying to help them to get to know these people that already know and trust us. Anyway, Lazaro came to Zapatas - AND THEN HE CAME TO CHURCH!!!!!! WHAT?!!! I have waited almost 11 months to see his face in church. It almost made me cry I couldn't believe it. All it took was an invitation to Zapatas?!?! Haha, no I'm sure it was other stuff. But seriously, it was amazing. Sad part is he's going back to Cuba for good next month. Once he does that, the church won't be in his life. We'll see if he goes through with it.
Oh, and then this family of 8 just showed up at church. Just walked in. A FAMILY. Like with a dad that came to church - that's unheard of in this culture. So cool!! I couldn't wait to jump out of my seat after sacrament to talk to them - haha. They're awesome!! They stayed for all three hours. Four of their daughters are YW age.... :D. So we went and taught them last night. They have this history with learning about the church, but were just never baptized. Also, I've heard myths about this colony/pueblo in Mexico that is Mormon - but not. Kinda of like RLDS - is that what it's called? Well, this is like the Mexican version. Something messed up in the line of authority with who was the prophet. Well, that's where the dad lived when he was little, and so here he is - totally strong testimony of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Coventants, church organization, etc. Just doesn't quite have it right. So we are not really sure how we're going to teach him because it's a unique thing. Eh, I'm sure we'll just start with the Restoration to get everything straight. And his wife, Rafaela is awesome!! She loved RS and has this daughter who's dream is to learn piano - perfect. :) But they can't afford the music lessons. Perfect. Rafaela couldn't believe I was leaving in a month. Uh, and where have you been for the last 10 months?! haha. They're so put together and everything. But when we found their house, it's tiny. About half the size of ours, and all 8 of them, along with Rafaela's brother live there. Wow, but just the happiest little trailer! I just can't get over that they just showed up at church. I can't believe it. I just feel this fire. Like when I pray, I can feel the power of communicating with my Heavenly Father. Not saying they showed up because of our prayers, but it's all connected. There's just something about viewing your mission like a Book of Mormon missionary. Ammon, Alma, Amulke - those guys poured out their souls for the people in the cities they worked in. That's the energy, obedience and power we're striving to do everything we can to bring to our companionship and area. It's exhausting. And awesome :)
What else... I don't know. People are just amazing :) Oh!! We had a movie night at the Branch where they watched The Incredibles - in Spanish!!! It was awesome!! I've always wanted to watch Disney movies in Spanish - that's how to learn a language!!
Oh, after that movie night we stopped for gas on the way home where we met an Apostle - it's not what you think. Oh man, the crazy things that happen to us. We're parked at the pump across from him when he says, "are you latter-days?" Oh, but he's black and his southern accent is thick! (which I've decided all the term "southern accent" means is "bad grammar"). He sitting there in his car, just talking out the window and he had to say it like three times because Sis Burns thought he was saying ("are ya lowed ta date?" hahaha) After I told him yes, he said, "y'all have beautiful spirits!" Alright, "well thanks!" we said, ready to leave. But then he started launching into this like sermon thing. Bible scriptures were flyin everywhere, and he was dramatic. It was so awesome. He was prophesying, and blessing us (I guess - he said my family would be blessed and I would see a blessing in my pocketbook (pell grant anyone?) and that we have specially 8,000 angels around us. On and on he went, we were in total shock just standing there, didn't even know what to say. Then! He started quoting scriptures about preaching the gospel in all the world, and how there will be false prophets in sheep’s clothing (that's ironic). Wow. Finally, all I could say was, "what is your name?" His response? "I'm apostle Tyrek Vessel, the chosen vessel of the Lord." Wait, what? Yes, Apostle. I feel like this story makes way more sense and is way funnier if I tell it in person. Anyway, point it - I just love the stuff that happens to us.
Yesterday, we had this Honduran try to bible bash with us. Try being the key word ;) So annoying. And so lost. He's the father-in-law of a new investigator we found this week. He was a special case though, because he kept telling us that he knows the Book of Mormon is true. All we were doing was reading the introduction with Jasmine. Oh, he knows the BoM is true, but he can't be baptized. And you know that paragraph in the intro with the Joseph Smith quote about the Book of Mormon being the most correct of any book? Wow, he didn't like that. He made sure to tell us that he says beautiful prayers, that he has his titulos (like... certificates to preach or whatever) hanging on his wall, and he has his Bible that he brought from Honduras 20 years ago when he crossed with his "papers from God," and there are 66 books in the bible, and do I know what the last one is? On and on. Man, the world is so full of truth, laced with philosophies of men. Most people like that are just kinda dumb or wrapped up in a bunch of Baptist/Pentecostal stuff, but he was actually a smart one, in a sense. Cunning and dramatic. Isn't that what the world looks for though? I could go on and on with stories like that.
The point is I don't know what I would do if I didn't know the Book of Mormon was true, understand priesthood authority, and know that God speaks through a prophet today. I wouldn’t know whether to follow the Honduran crazy cunning man, Apostle Tyrek (previous gang banger drug dealer) or a colony in Mexico, all of which had tiny bits of truth. Man, we are so blessed. But really, all the times that I wish I had a video camera, or tape recorder or something to just video and give you an idea of the crazy people that live down here!!
I loved your package!!!! That was SO sweet!! And dad, I don't have a souther drawl, I just say y'all and have bad grammar, and sometimes slip in Spanish words without meaning too. Haha, so no worries :) Thanks for putting those cubes in, that's awesome! And wow, you let strawberry jam leave the house? Whoa. Haha, well someone just gave us a homemade loaf of bread, so that'll be an awesome treat!! And those apples, and everything, man! Now we hardly have to do any shopping today - thanks! Really, it was very generous, thank you. :) I got a package the same day from the Burnett's! Did they tell you about that? It was so nice!!!
I got signed up for some classes. I tried to leave either morning or afternoon free for work schedule (since I don't know what I'll get) but it was hard because of how full the classes were.
... Also, I think it's good I signed up for classes because it made me do something for me, something out in the real world, so it's helping me adjust to the idea a little bit of leaving my mission.
Ok... well I can't think of anything else to ramble about. Haha. Other than... Y'all are AWESOME!!!!!! And... Sis Burns and I cannot believe y'all went to a Vocal Point concert!! We listen to them like every day. Them, piano, and orchestra. We're such music nerds. Oh, she has her bachelor's in music. Did I ever tell you that? She has her violin here with her. And we play at a nursing home every Tuesday morning, and they love us. :) And we always get asked to play together, builds unity. :) She's so fun to play with because she's SO good! We can pretty much sightread anything together. She played in a mariachi for years before her mission - they did gigs in southern idea. Legit, right? Hence, she understands the scrappy fast Mexican accent very well. Which is good, because I don't. Oh, also I got my travel itinerary. I leave here early!! And get there late! Man, it'll be a long day. Also, what High Council meeting do I have to go to that night? Something about reporting. Do you get to come to that with me?
Ok, I'm gonna go :) I love you all bunches. Have a fantastic week!!!!!
Well, we finally have a minute to stop and write! Sorry it took awhile! How was everyone's Veteran's Day? Ours was awesome! It's a long story, but through someone that Sis Burns and I contacted last week we ended up at a Veteran's Day program under the I-12 that included music from the Louisiana Gospel Fellowship. aka - awesome gospel choir music. It was classic Louiaiana.
I got permission, no problem, to look at class stuff so I'll get on that! ... I probably won't worry too much. If I can just get there, get a job, and have a basic but good use of my time schedule, I should be good. Right? Haha, what do you think? I need some wisdom! :) And thank you so so so much for helping me with all this stuff! As far as the apartment goes, I'm pretty much at your mercy haha. I'll take whatever.
Back to my real life!! We are teaching a TON!!!! Like every missionaries dream. 21 lessons - that's a HUGE high for here! And it should be the same this week. I've worked hard my whole mission and have always strived to be consecrated, but I'm not sure I've ever felt so consecrated before. I think it's because Sis Burns and I are unified in that consecration. It's awesome. The Lord is just pouring out blessings on us right now. Plus, I've worked for a while on my attitude, and I just feel like I see miracles in everything. Before rejection bothered me because of being sad, or whatever, with not seeing people progress. I had faith in the Lord, and trusted in His timing, but I always kinda felt like I couldn't really figure out how to live that, and really give it over to Him. I don't know what it is, but all of sudden, I feel like I can finally do that. Ah, I don't know how to explain it! Like before I studied grace, and I had faith in it, but was frustrated because I couldn't apply it right. I'm not doing anything that different these days, but just time and diligence seems to have worked its magic. I hope at least some of that makes sense. I feel like, in a way, I'm finally that house that C.S. Lewis talks about. The one that the builder comes in, and at first starts making the normal adjustments. But then there was this time where the changes became really uncomfortable!! Throwing up a courtyard here, and a new wing there. And I'm starting to see that indeed, God is forming my heart into one that He can use for the rest of my life. I'll go where He calls, always. I am converted to Him because I know Him. Before I knew my Savior lived, now I find that I know Him. Because He is the one who's been making all those changes, and through it, I'm coming to know Him quite well. I'm grateful it's a process that continues all my life :)
Remember Nancy? I began teaching her in March or so and then she went to Mexico, and returned a bit ago? She's doing great! She still isn't sure about baptism/wants to wait for her husband, but we've just kept teaching, and she's progressing well. Her apt was destroyed (bad neighborhood) while she was in Mexico, so they've been living with a friend, but were finally able to move to their own place in this trailer park where we have other investigators, so it's awesome. She came to church Sunday, and is in 2 Nefi :)
Claudia... who knows. She hasn't been back to church since that day, but always with a "reason”. I'm pretty sure she's stopped reading, and her appointments have fallen through. But we have another one set for today, so we'll see what happens. I did talk to Greysi a bit ago, and she still reads her kids Book of Mormon. She's pretty special :) I just can't help but love them to pieces. I think Claudia is bunkering down because she knows I'm leaving soon. It will be really important to keep good contact with her because everyone in her life has always eventually abandoned or been taken from her.
Tanya is doing absolutely AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's who we had to leave the library last night to go teach. We hadn't seen her for a week and were a little nervous. Plus she doesn't have a phone. But it was just a series of unfortunate events, and she's doing great. Just really tired from her pregnancy. Our lesson last night was on repentance, and it was so powerful. I mean, she was. She finally opened up about her past, and I can really see that she acknowledges her sins, but has this amazing faith in Christ to balance it out. She's truly understanding, and that was so comforting to see. I've watched a handful of people in this branch get baptized (from the elders) and they never lasted more than a month at church, sometimes not past the Sunday they were confirmed. And so I'm naturally nervous to let that happen to anyone. It's why we can't push people too much, well we also can't control them. Anyway, I could just tell with Tanya last night that she's definitely for real. I've never seen someone change so much. She's a completely different person than the one I knew in January, or even a month ago. Not just spiritually either, she's just... different!! She understands how she can start a new life, and just move forward. She knows it's going to be really difficult. She definitely is in a hard spot. She left home in Guatamala at either age 8 or 12 and went to Mexico and was a nanny. At age 13 she began drinking. That all continued here, until she ended up pregnant. She told us she was hysterical when she found out, and that the father gave her $900 to get an abortion. She said that honestly, she was tempted. But she didn't do it, and that was basically her switch point. Wow. I just can't believe how blessed I am to know these people!!!! Her b-day is tomorrow - she'll be 20. We can't take her anywhere, and she doesn't have a car... so we're gonna think of something fun to do. Maybe some b-day cake or papousas and the restoration dvd. Haha, that's about as fun as we can get :) I just, words can't tell you how full my heart is down here. I'm changed myself.
Tomorrow we're going to the temple. Esmeralda is coming for the first time to do baptisms! And so is Martin!! He's still our favorite :) He sent us a message the other night that basically said we are his guardian angels that found him and saved his soul. It sounded better in Spanish. But man! That's the stuff written in Ensign magazines! But we didn't hardly do anything! We were just there that night, and opened our mouths, he did the rest. Him and the Lord.
Ok... we have to go. Lots of plans for the day :) Sorry it's so scattered, and I'm pretty sure there's a ton of things I forgot that I meant to respond to from your emails... sorry. But I'm excited about the eBay thing :) And I've been praying that Mom wouldn't get layed off - I'm so glad. And I will forward this for sure to Grandma Hughes as well, thanks for her address. I just wish I had time to write her at least a little something separate, but I can't. Hopefully she'll understand. And thanks so much for the pic of Erika and Garrett! That's awesome! They look great! Where was that taken? Garrett is so tall too!
Ok, I love you all bunches and bunches! Can't wait to hear from you Monday :) I hope you all have a fantabulous rest of the week!
Con mucho amor,
P.S. Have you seen Ephraim's Rescue? You HAVE to see it! It's a long story, but we got to watch it at the mission home last week (perks of living in BR for 11 months - haha. Pres had us go because of some sisters that had to come to stay up here for a bit) Anyway! It was amazing! K love you bye!
P.P.S. We are so excited about the package!! And your letter too, Sis :)
Good Morning and Happy November!!!!
So here's a summary of my week: I got pegged in the eye super hard with a ball and thought I had a concussion, I got another ingrown toenail removed (different toe, ouch! But the podiatrist was WAY better!), and then I got bit by some killer spider on my right ankle and my entire foot/ankle/up my leg has been swollen for 3 days. I originally thought it was just another red ant bite. One of the joys I haven't mentioned much about living in Louisiana if you have sweet blood - I get bites almost every day, year round!!!!! ah! This one has kept me up every night with crazy itching painful feeling, so I did not enjoy that extra hour as much as I wanted to! haha. But Sister Wall is helping me and I'm on a rigorous schedule of Benadryl :) If the swelling doesn't decrease soon I'll get an injection. But!! I'm full time in the Spanish branch again!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yayaya!! With Sis Burns! In my old bed, my old apt, and my old family! Man, am I grateful! I wouldn't have minded leaving BR awhile ago, but for 6 weeks, I'm much happier to stay! We are REALLY really excited about the transfer, I think it'll be my best yet! I have one companion (who speaks Spanish), and one area to work. Different from the many times I've been in trios, quads, or worked multiple areas. And I'm not a Sister Training Leader anymore so all of our energies will be poured just into our area. We know it well, and are very excited!! We teach great together, and have fun. I'm blessed that Sister Burns will be my last companion. :) She and I push each other - I never feel like I'm draggin’ anybody. She's just consecrated and it's a joy to work with her. I met her in the MTC one night while I was brushing my teeth. Oh, if we'd only known then what we know now, haha. Who'd a guessed we'd finish together! (Well, she has one more transfer than I do.)
Unfortunately, I just don't have too much of an update on anybody except for Tanya. She is doing great! She's really letting the gospel change her, and I'm so grateful that the Lord is letting me witness that. She's right on track for her baptismal date of Nov 23, and her baby is due Dec 16. We taught the Plan of Salvation this week, which is my favorite lesson to teach!!! Out of any lesson, that's the one that "rings true" to people, and it's awesome! Everything is so so new to her, but she just soaks it up. And she's becoming a lot more sincere. Before she would say all the right things, but now she's doing them. And those actions speak pretty loud! :) It's awesome.
We went with Marquetta to the Lawyer's on Tuesday. It was a great thing to do on my last day in the English area! We got everything taken care of, and the papers were sent out Wednesday to her soon to be ex in Pennsylvania. There's a 30 day waiting period, and then no matter whether he responds or not, they'll go through with the divorce. Depending on the courts, about 15 days after that it should all be done!!!! So right around when I leave, they should be divorced!! I really want to throw them a little wedding in the church, and a baptismal service the next day, which is a selfish desire, but still :) haha, but I really felt like the Lord used my personality to get things done with them. It took a lot to get everything worked out with the lawyer, and yet the Lord made it all possible. I'm so grateful to just be an instrument in his hands. I know I went English for that family. I met them my first week, and was with them till the last day. They will forever hold a big place in my heart. :) We went and taught them that night, and at the end, Inajah (11) gave me this old stuffed animal to remember her by. It was so cute! His name is piggy :) And when we all knelt and Jonathan (8) prayed, he prayed for me on my vacation. :) That I would be safe, and keep contact with them. Cute!!
Oh! I forgot about Martin! I need to send you a picture of him. He's the lost member that Sis. Burns and I found at Myara and Nino's about 3 1/2 months ago, but then I haven't been able to visit him for the last 2 transfers. Since then he's returned and never missed a day of church! We helped him find some family names this week to take to the temple to do baptisms next week. So cool! And he's preparing to go and receive his endowments. He's just a solid person. More than anything, he feels like an uncle. He's one of those people who's really had an impact on my mission. He works in construction now, he's really good. But he loves biology and went to school in Mexico to be a veterinarian. So when my ankle was so inflamed, hot and swollen the other night and I thought the whole thing was gonna pop, he had no problem helping - haha. The bite site had blistered up so he had to perform a little surgery with a needle. It's gross, so you probably don't wanna hear about that. :) Anyway, he's great!! When his family gets here, he wants to come visit Sis Burns and I in Idaho, so maybe y'all will meet him one day!
We went and helped the LSU missionaries last week set up a table, and then we just talk to everyone! We used pass along cards and scriptures of course. "Have you ever wondered about the purpose of life?" The most common response - "no". Haha! How was your last game Garrett? And is Grandma still there? That's so great she came to see the game and make Erika's dress!! Give her my love!
I send all my love! I hope you each have a wonderful week. Work hard, have fun, smile :)
Lots of Love,
Well, Tim was not baptized Saturday, but Juan went through the temple!!!!!! He was baptized when Sister Walker was here, right before I came. So I've been working with him for about 10 months, and he received his endowments Saturday! I always call him Tio Juan, or Uncle Juan haah. As you can see from the pic, a lot of missionaries worked with him! His family lives in Mexico right now but he skypes/calls them every day. I've met them before and they're the sweetest. After he was baptized, he taught them everything he knew, and they went to their church building in Mexico to find missionaries and say they wanted to learn the rest! So they were baptized in February, and will all be able to be sealed this coming February. They're so excited :) We are too! We all want to go to the sealing in Mexico! Juan is such an example. He's one of those people who just recognizes truth. I don't think he really needed any of us here, but we've sure needed him! He's been serving as our branch secretary for quite awhile and is such an amazing example to me!
Tanya is doing well! She set a date of November 23. I haven't seen Claudia, but thinking she's doing good as well.
The biggest miracle EVER happened on Sunday! We went to ward council that morning, and a man was there who I'd never seen before. His name is Bishop Maughn, a former bishop from a different Baton Rouge ward. When the ward had us tell them what's going on with Robert and Marquetta, their legal issue came up again. Turns out this Bishop Maughn is a lawyer. A different one than Bishop Baum who've I've been on the phone with trying to get help. When Bro. Maughn heard the problem, he said, "Oh, we can get that taken care of." Oh my goodness!!!!!!!!! He's going to do it for free, I think even eat the court costs! He met Robert and Marquetta, all Ketta could keep saying was "thank you sir, thank you." Knowing for awhile that I probably would get transferred out of the 2nd Ward, my goal has been to get this divorce under way, I've kinda felt like it's my last purpose that wasn't taken care of in the ward. We have prayed for it so hard! It's like we prayed up Bro Maughn! Before he knew any of that he told us after the meeting, "this is lucky, I never usually come to these meetings." Haha, yeah. lucky. So Robert and Ketta have been taught everything, and are doing awesome. Robert still isn't smoking, Ketta is working through her medication issues, the kids are great and excited to be in the primary program. I talked to the law office a bunch yesterday, we got them the info they need, and now we're going there for an appointment today with Ketta. But they said this should all be done in under two months. I can't believe it!!! I'm so so so grateful!! Seriously an answer to prayer. I am just so close to them and will miss them tons!
Oh, so yes, I'm getting transferred for my last transfer. But it looks like I won't go far from BR, it looks like just back to the branch. So if that's the case, I'll move back to my old apartment, and be companions with Sis Burns. I'm on pins and needles waiting to find out! Pray that I stay calm!
I'm excited Grandma Hughes is coming to visit! I haven't written her for a few months, so please give her all my love! It should be a fun week. :) That's also so neat you were able to go to Moscow. You're right, the Palouse is the prettiest in the fall! Oh, speaking of fall colors, I saw some yesterday! I saw a banana tree, usually with all green leaves, but this one had a few yellow ones! We were joking that that's the extent of the fall colors here in Louisiana! Also good luck at the craft show! I hope you have fun! Garrett's game sounded awesome. Good job G! If you take any pics, send one my way! Also, I'm pretty sure the camera is fine.
Thanks so much! It'll be nice to have for my last transfer!
Ok, I better get going. Always lots and lots to do the transfer week Tuesday! I love you all bunches and bunches!