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!
Weird time to be getting an email from me, right? Well, yesterday my email wasn't working so President said we could stop by the library for me to let you know I'm alive and shoot you an email :) We have a lot to do though so I'll be keeping it short! It's just hard because so much happened last week!!
1. Esmeralda's baptism!!!! Do you remember her? She's the one that I found and the sisters started teaching her two transfers ago right when I left the all Spanish area. Well, she's awesome!! I've probably not met a better person. I didn't have a part in teaching her, but it doesn't matter. I played my small part and it was so awesome so see her take that step!!!! I wish I could give you more details. Suffice it to say - awesomeness.
Side note: Do you remember Tanya from months ago? Like 10 months ago? Shaky investigator who then called Sister Carolan and I one night saying she wanted to baptize and really change. So we went, taught her, set a plan, and then we never heard from her again. Her aunt said she'd moved out of their house, she said she was young and wanted to club and do whatever she wanted. Kinda confusing, a total 180. Some months later I learned she was pregnant. A few months after that I saw her at her aunt’s house (who's a less active member). Well, Tanya showed up at Esmeralda's baptism, now 7 months pregnant, and afterward told me she needed to talk to me. She said she wants to get baptized. Well, I've walked down that road before. Two stories come to mind. Boy who cried wolf, and return of the prodigal son. My nature says be wary, but I'll go ahead and pick the return of the prodigal son. She came to church, and we've now taught her twice. She's motivated by fear because she's having dreams that her son will only be born with one eye because of her sins. But today, when we taught her, she'd kept her commitment, and she told me that she realized this was for her too, not just him. Sometimes its hard for us to believe people can change, but I know through the gospel she can do it!
I'm putting this sad one in between the two happies. Judy sent a text to the Hermanas (Sis Burns and Sis Judd) on Friday. She texted them and said she'll be Catholic forever, don't come back. Literally, that's what it said. Most likely because of her husband. You can guess how I felt about that. She's tried to drop us twice before, but this one was for real I think. She's told me in the past that she knows the Book of Mormon is true, but because of a whole lot of reasons, she's decided to give up on doing what she knows she should. Mostly it's her husband that's keeping her from it. Her husband who I actually translated for at one point to help get out of jail. Oh man. I sure just love Judy, though! One day she'll get there, although it may be in the Spirit world, I won't give up hope! One of the biggest miracles of my mission is how we found her, and I know that the last 9 months she's spent with missionaries wasn't for nothing!
Here's the big one. And I am going to take time to tell you this, although words won't suffice at all. It's about Claudia. I was asked to teach Gospel principles in the Spanish branch. Elder O’Donnell asked me a bit late in the week and said to pick my own topic. But then I forgot, so I actually prepped it Saturday night before bed. I picked faith, knowing that Claudia was going to be there. We've been working a lot on faith with her and her commitment right now that she's been working on is reading Alma 32. She told us at soccer earlier on Saturday that she read more of it and was actually understanding a little bit. Anyway, that lesson on faith was probably the easiest I ever prepped. I don't know why, it was like someone told me just what to do. I pieced in a bible video, Preach My Gospel, a scripture, questions. No stress. Then I woke up early Sunday morning with the idea to take a bunch of little pictures of Jesus (the one in the read robe) and give one to each person, along with having them write some feelings about faith in their Savior. Anyway, then the class was packed!!!! Holy smokes, but everything went awesome. And then in the middle, even though I hadn't planned to, we turned to Alma 32. I wasn't exactly sure where to start, or what it was leading to. Claudia is usually the instigator in the class; the one with a million questions. But that's how she's always been - I always study a lot when we teach her, :) After reading a few verses, she raised her hand, and said she wanted to share something. Share... not question? Ok. She started to say that she'd been reading this chapter more the previous night, and suddenly she began to cry. I don't know how to explain the spirit. When she opened herself up right then, this powerful force entered the room. She was speaking through her tears, but I don’t remember really what she said. Something about how she'd once refused to read this book (BoM)... and some other stuff when all of a sudden she just said, "I believe that this church is true." Those are words we hear a lot in America on fast Sunday's. But wow, in that room when she said it - so many suddenly started to cry. It was absolutely one of the happiest moments of my mission. And I've rarely felt a spirit like that in my whole life. I stood at the front just smiling and yeah, crying a bit. Everyone, some knowing what she and I have been through, just kept turning back and forth between the two of us. A missionary asked how she knew that. She said she just felt it and knew it because of what the scripture said about the seed. We have read Galatians 5 with her about three times I think over the last 10 months, in response to how she'll recognize truth, but she hasn't ever been happy with that answer. All of a sudden, she was experiencing it. It was amazing. That morning I'd jokingly told Sis Paulson, "this class is going to be so awesome, I'm just going to commit everyone to baptism by the end!" If we had been in Claudia's house, that's exactly what would've happened. While I wanted to commit her, I didn't because of the pressure of all those people. I instead asked her what she wanted to do with her faith. She responded, "continue to grow it." And that's what we'll do. Wow!! Just such a huge step!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My heart hadn't been filled with that much gratitude and joy for a long time. And every person in that room felt it, it was perfect.
Ok, I'm sure some of that didn't make sense, but I'm not really gonna take time to read over it. My miracle week! (well, the actual week was pretty lame because almost every person blew us off, or lesson’s dropped. Statistically low. My district leader wasn't happy with the numbers... but who cares. None of our miracles came from any lessons we taught, but through just sticking in there!).
I love you! Sorry I don’t have time for anything else, but thanks so much for the messages you sent me! Next week is transfer week. My last one!!!!!!!!!!! I'm freaking out!!!!!!!!! But it's the time I have to deal with waiting for that nerve-wracking call to see if I'm going or staying.... so I guess that's good. Every 6th monday night for me is the worst! And that's one thing I won't miss. President said a little bit ago that he thought I should be taken out of the ward and just be in the branch again. We'll see!!!!
LOVE YOU TONS!!!!!!!!!!!!
p.s. - Also, Erika had her first date!! woo-ee everyone be growin up!! Craziness. I was really bummed to hear that dad couldn't meet rob at the door with a shotgun... :) Haha
Hello to all!!!!
I'm doing great this fine day! I feel like I'm doing pretty good at being the best me :) I went off sugar completely so thats good!
It sounds like y'all are doing a lot of work getting ready for the craft show. That's cool! It was good to see everyone out working in the shop. :) I just wanted to be there! Although... you did look kinda cold... :) It's good to know some things just don't change. But you all looked so big! Well, mainly just Garrett, haha what the heck G?! Looked like y'all were doing great! ...
But speaking of that cold... I knew it was colder there but I think I kinda forgot what that's like until I saw everyone with their hoods on. Y'all need some gloves! We stay in the 80’s here and into the 90s some days and humidity varies so I can't complain! But yeah, make sure to add boots to that list mom! :)
... I'm so grateful for how the prophet and apostles can speak out on modern day issues. Over and over in conference this time I felt like they respectfully, kindly, simply, and boldly taught about how God's laws will never change. Ever. No matter what man does down here. They really set an example of how to respond to questions. I've learned that I need not get nervous about how to answer people, which was perfect since Claudia asked us specifically about gays and the church on Wednesday. I gave her my best Elder Oaks answer, and she said, "oh, ok." No problem... None of us will apologize about God's laws.
Thanks for your words of encouragement Mom! I am looking forward to Christmas! I'm not gonna lie, I've totally been trying to think up some gift idea that I can make and that weighs nothing (so it can go in the suit case). So far I have... a piece of paper. haha. No, I have no idea. But I'm not worried, it'll just be awesome to be together! We could probably just look at the Christmas tree lights all Christmas morning and be happy! oh my goodness! I just realized - since I'm getting home a week earlier than I would of, y'all should totally wait for me to go tromping through the woods to get a tree! Can you wait that long? I bet so! :) It'll be like my b-day present :)
Claudia and Greysi are doing awesome. Claudia did say she told Carlos "she's starting to believe in this stuff." And stood up for the difference between the Bible and Book of Mormon. I was so proud of her!!! Marquetta and Robert are doing bad. Their lights got turned off, their car broke down, and Marquetta was basically stoned from a drug they put her on for her bi-polar stuff. And she just called me saying they can't make rent and might get kicked out. We got there on Saturday right as Marquetta was losing it. Tim was so stressed he'd literally just lit a cigarette, and started to smoke. The previous Bishop, who's a lawyer, hasn't gotten back to us, and the court process for divorce is already going to take so long. I'm not really sure what to do, but we'll press on.
I really really have to go. I love you all tons!!
Good Morning everybody!!!!
Today was the first day in I don't know how long where I opened the door and didn't get smacked in the face with humidity and heat. So awesome!!!!!!!!!! Because it's still been so hot!! When you said 86 degrees the other week, I thought, "really? the humidity must keep it feeling like 98 degrees." But today it finally feels a bit better. Perfect to go to the field and play some ultimate Frisbee. :) I'm surprisingly good at that game these days by the way. You better watch out Will, haha.
Well, I'm doing better this morning. Doesn't General Conference just always do that though? Uplift, chasten, give hope and peace - just when you need it? :) What were your favorites? I loved so many!! I loved Elder Soares' about meekness, and President Uchtdorf, and Elder Nube's... ok, ALL of them! Plus, wasn't the music amazing!! Sometime around the beginning of my mission I decided to put playing the conference center organ sometime during my life on my bucket list. I better start practicing! President told me he knows people. Haha yeah... like the prophet!
We watched it at the church, except for one session, President and Sister Wall invited us over to the mission home. It's crazy to think I did the exact same thing for April Conference. Man, I've been in BR a long time. Very sadly, Robert and Marquetta and their family didn't come, and neither did Claudia, again. That's two conferences now!! I was really excited for her for this one because she's been coming to church lately and having such good experiences. We also had a recent good lesson with her where she really explained her fears about baptism. I was really feeling like this conference would be a really wonderful time for her to receive the answers she wants. But I guess not. Maybe next time. As a missionary, Gen conf is like Christmas. All that night before is like Christmas Eve, and then during the morning of studies, you can't focus because you just want to go watch conference!!! It's like that moment on Christmas morning when you're waiting for your parents to get up - haha. And then you're there and listening to the talks, and really enjoying them. And yet each one you hear, you realize it's perfect for someone you know, but they aren't there to hear it!!!! Ah!! So sad and frustrating. You just long for them to be there too!! Goes to show how important it is that we are where we're supposed to be, when we're supposed to be there. That's half the battle. If we do that, then we're where the blessings are going to come .
Let's see.... I again don't know what to write. MLC was amazing, one of the best I've ever been too. Plus it helped that President pulled me in for an interview after. I love the time I get with him, we have a special friendship. So at MLC we have all sorts of instructions, and then it’s our job as Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders to take that and present it to the zone at Zone Training Meeting, along with whatever they need. One thing that the mission is going to start focusing on a lot is hope. So president instructed on it in MLC, and then that is what Sis Paulson and I instructed on in ZTM. So many acronyms, I know. It was really wonderful to study. It's actually my Christ-like attribute this month and so I've been studying it a lot anyway and it was fun to study it with the purpose of instructing. Studying hope as far as staying a hopeful individual myself as well as exploring how we give hope to other people, and how that plays in with fulfilling our purpose. It was also awesome to study how the Savior offered people hope, and things surrounding that. It went pretty well, I'd say. Instructing always makes me so nervous, but it's good too. We even made bookmarks for everyone in the zone. That's dedication right there :)
Let's see, I absolutely loved it when Pres Uchtdorf said, "Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith." Yeah! Why do we naturally tend to doubt faith first? That actually doesn't make much sense. Also, I've known that I'll still be a missionary after my full time mission, I've just tended to be sad that it'll be different. But Elder Nube's talk really helped me with that. I believe he was quoting Elder Holland's talk, "Remember Lot's wife" which is also a favorite on this subject of not looking back. I loved how Elder Nube said that in the service of the Lord, it doesn't matter where, but how. When we've learned what we need to, we move on. And usually when we move on, we don't know to where we are going, but we can know that the Lord leads us. Pretty powerful. Also, I loved how Elder Bednar talked about tithing! What neat insights he had. He talked about Law of Chastity in April. I'm kind of hoping he just goes for the main big last commandment next conference - word of wisdom :)
Random side not, have y'all watched the church's bible videos? If not, you should!! They are so powerful! The church has amazing media available. You should go watch the latest one, it's right on lds.org's home page. It's when Christ heals on the Sabbath. I think there's so much to learn in the short interchange between the Savior and the man. We actually used it in our instruction in learning about how the Savior offered the man hope, and then what the man had to do, etc.
Alrightly, I better get going and write my Presidents email. I hope you all really enjoyed conference and enjoyed the great blessing of knowing that God speaks for the issues of today. I love each of you dearly!!!
Lots of Love,
Thanks so much for your email today! It was awesome to get, I really needed to hear from you. ... I think that the basic crux of my problem is that I'm having a heck of a time being content with where I am called to serve, and with whom. I need to be grateful for whom the Lord has given me to love and serve and teach, with the English work.
And my time is getting short. It's the classic question right? Have I done enough? Was it my best? Is it? It's very real though, and since the beginning of my mission, I knew it would come and so I've tried to avoid it by focusing on making sure I was consecrated a day at a time. But the questions still come. The other thing you know I'm sure, although I haven't told anyone directly because I don't want to hurt any feelings, but I don't want to leave my mission. Not at all. You should probably all start writing me the awesome things about home so I can remember and help me detach from Louisiana! I would be content to come to the airport, see everyone and then come back. After teaching Claudia this week, I just wondered, "how can I leave her?!" I don't really care how hard it is, because yeah, it's been really hard. There are lots of disappointments, and every time I leave an area, it flourishes!! It's partly frustrating. I mean, it's been just me and my comp, with my nose to the grind here in BR Spanish work for nine months, always working with the faith and hope that there are those prepared for us, but I never saw it. And the spanish sisters in my old area and apartment and old district family? With all those people I love, and I'm around nice and close to observe all of it btw, - they are flourishing. The people I taught and barely found, or tried to work with, are either now inviting the sisters to their house (whereas I just spent half my days standing on their doorstep) or they're returning, or getting baptized. Part of me says that it's ok, just be happy. I worked with faith, and the love I showed prepared those people to where they are now, and it's just different missionaries reaping and "harvesting," and I need to be more selfless. The other part of me wonders that if I would have somehow worked harder, or had more faith, worked smarter, taught better, whatever, if those people could have progressed then. But I just cringe when those thoughts creep into my mind because I know they shouldn't. It is just creeping by the way.
But really, despite any of that, I don't care because I feel like this is what I was made to do. I remember that since I was about 12, or really since I can remember, this is what I've wanted to do, be a full time missionary. Do you remember once driving with just you and me, from Moscow to Sandpoint. The topic came up, and I said that I knew I'd serve a mission. You asked why I wanted to. I said that part of it was for a selfless reason: I had to share the peace and joy I had, and part of it was selfish: that I felt like my testimony would need the strengthening that would come from a mission. I don't know if you remember, but it's one early memory I have. And what the heck kind of preteen (or early teen) says that?! I remember that you teasingly asked, "what if you meet your prince charming first?" I think I laughed and said," whatever dad, no I won't." Haha, well I thought it was close there for a bit with David, but it wasn't. I chose a mission. Heavenly Father's answer to my prayer was a mission. Over David, Jerusalem, school, work, etc., it's always been what I'd do. So who am I going to be after this? I mean, I know who I am, but do you know what I mean? I don't really have a desire to get married or have kids, which is contrary to everyone else, although I do trust that it will come. It almost breaks my own heart to write that, because I know that's what I'm supposed to do, but it's just not there right now. I don't know if I really am even up for school, although I know it's what I have to do. I'll just freeze in Rexburg this year! I don't know if I'm smart enough to go back to school and face all those science courses to pursue what it is that I want to do, which is the same by the way. I know I want to go to Jerusalem more than ever, and would love to have that be in Jan 2015, a year from when I get home. But then I really can’t think about any of that, can I? So here I am :) I got up today, was obedient to my schedule, loved my time in the Book of Mormon, and that's what keeps me grounded despite of it all. Is there such a thing as a "quarter life crisis?" :-)
So I look at the bagoblocks page from time to time, and am always kind of wondering how it's going. It's always in my prayers. It's probably been there awhile, but I only just discovered the "Our Location" link. That picture there taken from that side of the lake is awesome!!!
Haha, do I remember about the Jam?! YES! We just barely finished the raspberry y'all sent awhile ago. So Sis Paulson got to try some, and we were both wishing we had more! I told her we could write and ask for some, but then I told her how precious that jam is and that led to me telling her about our joke at home about when someone would ask for us to pass the jam :)
I didn't know about my travel itinerary! Did it tell you if it's a direct flight? Or maybe you just got my arrival time. Well, seeing as how I sent my one jacket home in that package... you're probably going to have to bring me a coat! I'm going to be freezing! If it's at all like last year, it won't really get cold here between now and when I leave. Look for that package by the way. I had some (probably kind of confusing) requests about some memory cards I sent home, so let me know if you have any questions :) Oh, and Mom's email about the camera switch didn't come in till after I'd left the library last week. But I'm going to hold onto this one. I think the problem is maybe that my memory card was too smart for that camera and so the pictures were just blurry on the camera (but will be fine on the computer?) That and the flash wasn't broken, you just have to be smarter than the camera :) haha. So anyway, you should be able to take that money back out of my account, as long as that memory card is fine. Thanks so much for doing that though!!
Mom, your email just came in! Oh, this email is for you too obviously (despite my subject line :). I signed that paper last night and it'll go in the mail today. Thanks for setting up that stuff, that's awesome! I'm so blessed, now I don't have to worry about it. Do you think you could set me up for a chiropractor or massage therapist appointment? I'll find a way to pay for it, I just know it has to be done! My hip/sacrum needs to be straightened back out (literally, haha) - yoga and stretching are only getting me so far these days. Thanks :)
Well, Claudia is doing great, and so is Marquetta's fam. They have kinda become my family!! They call me Sister Sister and say I'm just another one of their sisters haha :) The kids are awesome, the three oldest actually finished the kids Book of Mormon we got them. Robert was smoke free all week except one cigarette Saturday. He told us about it that night (when he picked Marquetta up from the RS broadcast). He was so bummed. But he's picking himself right up again. It was dark so we walked over with them to where they could see the temple all lit up (we're so lucky that it's right by the church!), and they were just so excited that that is their goal one day! Apparently, the previous bishop of this ward is a lawyer and will maybe be able to help with the divorce situation. We just need him to answer his phone! We are working on making a list of everything that needs to be done, including costs so that it's really clear. Then, maybe the ward council will also be able to help. They'll see that Robert and Marquetta are doing everything they can and that this isn't just another family that's going to need help. We're gonna plow through this tumbleweed one way or another! I might miss their baptisms, but do y'all wanna come back in a little over a year with me for their sealing? Sounds like every missionaries dream, right? It'd be pretty cool for you to meet them.
So you took my Book of Mormon challenge huh mom? What date are you going for? I can't remember what I wrote. I'm going for the 20th so I read about 15 pgs a day. It's awesome reading it through fast like this. It's not like it's hard reading, just a matter of doing it. It's cool because you really understand what groups of people went where, and where they were from. Reading it fast, I really get a clear picture. Although it's hard sometimes to not stop and study just one verse of set of verses! But it sure strengthens my testimony to get the big picture again!! No one, farm boy, or scholar, could have written about that many groups of people with all the times and dates and places lining up like that. No siree, that cannot be fiction.
We have a busy week. It's Mission Leader Coucil already again (1st Wed of every month) and then Zone Training Meeting is always that Friday, so lots to learn and plan for. Should be good.
Ok, I better go. Thanks for letting me write my rant. Thanks for waiting till I was ready to talk about it. I look forward to hearing from you next week. I hope it's a good one and that you are happy :)
Lots of Love,
It's been a crazy transfer week. My new companion is Sister Paulson. She is from California and hasn't been out too long. I've never seen a person more opposite than I!
The best thing that happened this week is that we taught Robert, Marquetta, Tim and their family a ton! About every other day. One of those big lessons was the Word of Wisdom. We went into it knowing that they each at least smoke. But they also pre-read the pamphlet and were so prepared that the lesson went really well. The best part of my whole week was that at one point Robert said, "I'm not gonna lie, that pamphlet hit me pretty hard. I just want to stop, to change. I just can't let anything keep me from being with my family forever." You could have cut the silence that brought with a knife! It was so powerful! Woah. They just get it. I don't know how many times I've taught the same principles to people my whole mission, even things like temple marriage when the time has been right. I've taught it as simply as I could, but I felt like people rarely understood. What I held as the greatest truth that gives my life meaning seemed to just fall on deaf ears. But they just get it. It was really neat. They were all at church yesterday and are progressing wonderfully. The only thing is this divorce. Anyway, Robert and Tim were really scared to quit cold turkey so they created a goal and a plan to stop by this week. Marquetta just quit, and she got up and threw her coffee away - haha. Love her. And they each wrote down things to do when they were tempted. It was so awesome. Then last night during our lesson, Robert told us that when he wakes up he doesn't even have the desire or urge to smoke. He always did before. Pretty awesome! I'm getting to witness the Gospel of Jesus Christ change people :)
Well, sorry it's so short, I just can't think of much else to write. I love you all dearly. I hope you are happy and remembering to always do the things that matter most :)