Hi everyone, party week has been a lot of fun and I am so worn out and ready to take a nap:)
On Monday night Hermana McRae and I were able to teach the family of the little Mexican lady that saved our life from the mangy dog! She doesn't speak Spanish, but her daughter and granddaughter do! We're not sure if they'll progress all that much, but it was neat to be able to get to know her a little better! I also picked up on a bit of Otomin, so that might be useful some day...
Tuesday morning we left early for Spanish Meeting. President Wilson asked me to share my testimony, which was nice because I don't get to share it often in Spanish. JUST KIDDING I do that all day every day;)
Afterwards we went out with the Chesterfield Hermanas. I got to do a little exchange with Hermana Stice again! That was fun and hopefully one day she'll send me the picture we took together. I really love that Hermanita.
Hermana McRae and I got up early and ran which was nice.
And then on Wednesday we had MLC which was really great and I learned a ton of stuff. And my brain is just so fried right now that I can't tell you about all I learned at this moment.
Hermana McRae and I then drove to the mission office and left our car there. I went with the Midlothian Hermanas (Powell and Anderson) to work with them and spend the night, and my companion went home with the Charlottesville Sisters. I really enjoyed being with Hermanas Powell and Anderson and I taught their member present how to say "groovy." They were just so sweet to me:) I also couldn't sleep at all and kept having nightmares of sleeping in. So I just woke up at 3:30 and stayed awake until the alarm at 5:45...yay:)
Then I went to the.... TEMPLE!! With the other outgoing missionaries! It was truly one of the most rewarding days of my entire mission. We left from the mission office early and stopped in Fred and Woodbridge to pick up the other Sisters. There are 9 outgoing Sisters (including one Hermana...me!) and 7 Elders. And then also 4 visitor center Sisters from Nauvoo and T-Square. So we had 13 Sisters and President in one van. He gave us tons of marriage and dating advice...so yay.
We got to the temple, took a ton of pictures, and then went inside. A member of the temple presidency spoke to us and then we did the 11 am session! It was SO AMAZING!!! I got to see the 2nd new movie, with the golden stairs;) I remembered almost everything! It was so familiar, as if I was going home. But, I understand it a whole lot better than I did 18 months ago. I'm really grateful that I wasn't able to go to the temple regularly on my mission because now I understand the endowment better from just consistently keeping my covenants.
When I made it through, I walked into the Celestial Room and President and Sister Wilson were there waiting for me! I just lost it and started bawling like a baby. It was as if I was coming home to my Heavenly Parents. I hugged them then sat and cried some more. I felt the Spirit so strongly and really just feel like Heavenly Father is pleased with my meager offering.
After the session, while waiting for everyone to finish changing, I met President Ezra Taft Benson's daughter in the hall!!! So that was neat:) Her name was Sister Parker.
Then we went to the visitors' center and had lunch and took more pictures, which Hapa and Mom said are available on facebook. Then we drove around DC a bit and stopped at the Lincoln Memorial for a few minutes. We drove home and made it back to Richmond at around 8:30. Sister Greer and I drove up our car to Harrisonburg and made it home at 10:30. By the end of it all, I was sooo tired! And I'm still not caught up!
Friday was Zone Meeting and I had no idea what I was going to share, but the Spirit really helped me give a nice training on the missionary schedule:) And then we kind of weekly planned and went to some appointments. Ana still doesn't want to get baptized, so that was a little sad. But she's still reading a ton and wants to keep learning!
Saturday was Conference and we finished prepping for the baptism of Alejandro on Sunday. It was super stressful trying to get all of the final details finished, but he was baptized and his family is so happy!:) His sister from Illinois came in town with her husband, and her husband is set to be baptized in May! They have plans to be sealed in the temple in a year:) It's so cool how we were able to find the Cedeno family at the same time the missionaries in Illinois found the daughter. And now the whole family is coming back to church! The Dad is looking to be baptized in the next few weeks as well:) It was a huge tender mercy that everything worked out so nicely and I was able to have a baptism the last weekend of my mission! I feel so blessed and happy and just love my mission!
Tonight we're going out with Mikelle to see Ana, Geraldine, and the Cedeno family again. I'm pretty sad for my mission to be ending, but excited for what comes next.
I wish I had more time/energy to write more, but all I can say is that I feel so blessed to have been able to serve a mission. Estoy muy agradecida con mi Padre Celestial por darme esta oportunidad y por hacerme capaz de hacerlo <3 Se que esta es la iglesia verdadera de Dios y que El esta complacido con nuestros esfuerzos de predicar el evangelio!
I love you all so much and look forward to seeing you on Wednesday!
Es de igual manera con emociones mezcladas que le envío mi “carta de regreso a casa.” Mientras estaba refleccionando en las cosas que he aprendido y las experiencias que he tenido, he sentido tanto amor y gratitude por mi Padre Celestial for haberme dado la oportunidad de servir como misionera de tiempo completo.
Por medio de las experiencias de mi misión, he llegado a tener un mejor entendimiento de como my Padre Celestial me habla y me ama. El verano antes de que empezara la misión, cuando todavía estaba tratando de decidir si debería servir o no servir, sentí que no podía recibir una respuesta. Oraba y oraba para saber si una misión era lo correcto para mí. Por fin, entregue mis papeles misionales sin sentir que hubiera recibido una respuesta, solo sabiendo que una misión era algo bueno y que yo quería hacerlo. Muchas veces en la misión he orado y buscado una respuesta a través de mis sentimientos sin recibir nada. Me he dado cuenta de que mi Padre Celestial normalmente me habla por medio de mis pensamientos.
Desde ese momento, he tenido muchas experiencias revelatorias. A veces, pensamientos vienen a mi mente que son bien claros y bien poderosos que se que no vinieron por mí misma. Por ejemplo, estaba lavando platos un día en mi apartamento y la impresión vino a mí que necesitaba cambiar mi carrera a algo diferente de que estaba pensando. Otro día estaba orando y el pensamiento vino a mí que necesito vivir con mi hermana mayor, no con mis padres, cuando regreso a casa. Esos pensamientos de luz no los recibo cada día, pero bastante para que reconozca un patrón en la manera en que mi Padre Celestial me revela Su plan.
Me encanta la escritura en Romanos 8 que dice, “Por lo cual estoy convencido de que ni la muerte, ni la vida, ni ángeles, ni principados, ni potestades, ni lo presente, ni lo por venir, ni lo alto, ni lo profundo, ni ninguna otra cosa creada nos podrá apartar del amor de Dios, que es en Cristo Jesús, Señor nuestro.” No siempre puedo sentir eso derramamiento de amor, pero he sentido lo que se explica en DyC 121:33: “?Qué poder hay que detenga los cielos? Tan inútil le seria al hombre extender su débil brazo para contener el rio Misuri en su curse decretado, o volverlo hacia atrás, como evitar que el Todopoderoso derrame conocimiento desde el cielo sobre la cabeza de los Santos de los Últimos Días.” Sé que Dios me ama porque El me habla a mí en un sentido muy personal y derrama conocimiento sobre mi cabeza en una manera que yo puedo entender y recibirlo.
En la mission, tambien he aprendido que significa ser feliz. En Predicad mi Evangelio, dice que mas felicidad que nunca jamás he experimentado me espera en la misión. Antes pensaba que eso significaba que no tendría desafíos y que la felicidad vendría con facilidad. Mi misión ha sido una experiencia gozosa, pero mas importante, me ha ensenado como ser feliz aun en desafíos y desdicha. Ahora se que el gozo real y duradero viene por concertar y guardar convenios.
Antes de la misión, no creo que hubiera podido explicar de que Evangelio de Jesucristo siginifica tener fe en el, arrepentirse, concertar y renovar convenios bautismales, seguir los susurros del Espiritu Santo, y perseverar hasta el fin. Se que gracias a la expiación de Jesucristo, al vivir su evangelio me traerá felicidad en cada situación. Han pasado muchos momentos en la misión donde he sentido agobiada o sin fuerzas para continuar. Ahora, al final de la misión, Me siento sorprendida por todo lo que he logrado. Sé que no hubiera podido hacerlo por mi misma.
También siento que mi misión ha aumentado la calidad de mi vida. Antes, me gustaba ir a la iglesia, leer las escrituras, levantarme temprano, planear, hacer ejercicio, conocer a la gente, etc. Ahora, me enctantan todas estas cosas! También aprecio mas las cosas que he sacrificado, especialmente la familia. Aun hay algunas cosas que antes no me gustaban pero ahora me gustan! Por ejemplo, abrazar los momentos incómodos. Me siento muy bendecida que me fue dada la oportunidad de servir!
La última cosa que he aprendido en mi misión (o por lo menos que estaré compartiendo en esta carta) es como ser osada. Antes de la misión, yo estudie español por dos anos en la secundaria y tres semestres en BYU. Cuando entregue mis papeles, cada quien pensaba que iba a servir hablando español. Mi bendición patriarcal también implica que tendré la oportunidad de aprender un idioma en mi misión. Cuando fui llamada a servir hablando ingles, estaba desanimada pero dispuesta a servir en cualquier lugar y en cualquier manera. Todavía, mi Papa y mi maestra de español me prometieron que tendría yo la oportunidad de hablar español. No les creían porque pensaba que no había muchos hispanos en Virginia.
Bueno, después de algunos meses le dije que quería hablar español en mi misión. Para ser honesta, pensaba que se le habían olvidado y yo decidí que nunca iba a pasar. Pero, mi entrenadora la Hermana Olsen era buena y mi inspiro a seguir estudiando español mientras ella estudiaba portugués para el estudio del idioma. Durante mi próxima entrevista con usted, me informo de que iba a llegar a ser una Hermana en dos semanas! Había muchos momentos cuando me he preocupado si yo era demasiada osada en hacer que pasara o si aquel cambio era lo que mi Padre Celestial quería para mi misión. Luego, algo que dijo en la Reunión de las Hermanas me impacto: “Si te sientes como si fueras una piedrecita en la playa, trates de ser a ‘little bolder’!” Lo relacione con mi bendición patriarcal. Muchas bendiciones maravillosas me han sido prometidas, pero sé que no pasaran a menos que me prepare para ser digna de ellas y busque osadamente oportunidades para cumplirlas.
Yo estoy tan agradecida que pude servir como una Sister y una Hermana. Ambos llamamientos me ayudaron a aprender a ser osada. Es muy fácil hablar con todos porque siento confianza en predicar el Evangelio en ingles y en español. Yo sé lo que significa hablar con todos. He amado ser misionera y espero también disfrutar encontrando a personas para ensenar después de la misión. Yo tengo un testimonio poderoso de que si yo hablo con todos, Dios pondrá personas en mi camino porque El sabe que puede confiar en mí.
Para la mayor experiencia misional que he tenido, tuve la oportunidad de ayudar a un niño de 10 años se llama Robert a bautizarse cuando estaba sirviendo en Stafford con las Hermanas Peñaloza y Clark. Su abuelita era miembro, pero sus padres no. Su abuela lo llevaba a la iglesia cada semana y él quería bautizarse. Todos los miembros de la Rama nos desanimaban, diciendo que sus padres nunca iban a conceder. Un día, sentimos inspiradas a visitar a sus padres y pedirles por su opinión. Pasamos por la casa y el papá estaba afuera lavando su carro. Empezamos a platicar con él sobre eso y explicó que sentía que Robert era demasiado joven y que no sabía bastante. Le ayudamos al papa a entender nuestro propósito como misioneras para ayudarlo y prepararlo para el bautismo. ¡Él estaba de acuerdo y pusimos una fecha bautismal para Robert al final del mes!
Al mismo tiempo, la abuela de Robert empezó a trabajar en limpieza en un hotel. Tenía que trabajar los domingos y no más podía llevarlo a la iglesia. Los padres no eran muy cooperativos y los llevaban a él y a su hermana en vacaciones otra y otra vez los domingos. Un domingo ayuné para que Robert pudiera venir a la iglesia. Conseguimos un transporte y les llamamos a los padres en la mañana para confirmar. Su papá dijo que ya tenían planes. ¡Mis compañeras y yo estaban muy desanimadas! Cuando llegamos a la iglesia, justo antes de empezar la reunión sacramental, ¡Robert llegó con su abuela! ¡Milagrosamente lo había recibido libre!
Como una semana y media antes del bautismo, todavía no habíamos podido ensenarle ninguna de las lecciones misionales. Los dos padres y su abuela trabajaban, y muchas veces él estaba fuera de la casa para estar cuidado por otras personas. No estábamos seguras si estaría listo a tiempo o preparado para guardar el convenio bautismal. Un día mis compañeras y yo decidimos pasar, y averiguamos que ¡su abuela había lastimado su hombro en el trabajo! Ella iba a tener permiso de no trabajar por algunos meses. ¡El Señor trabaja en maneras misteriosas! ¡En una semana le enseñamos todas las lecciones misionales y fue bautizado!
Eso era una de las mayores experiencias de la misión porque tenía que depender de mi Padre Celestial y confiar que prepararía un camino para que Robert pudiera bautizarse. También estaba impresionada con la fe de Robert. Aunque no teníamos reuniones continuamente con él el mes antes de su bautismo, estaba leyendo en el Libro de Mormón casi cada día. En su bautismo, su mama menciono que su diligencia en leer las escrituras cada día le convenció dejar que se bautizara.
¡Muchas gracias, Presidente Wilson, por todo lo que ha hecho para que pudiera tener esas experiencias de aprendizaje! Me siento humilde por haber tenido la oportunidad de servir in la misión de Virginia Richmond. Estoy triste de regresar a casa, pero animada por la nueva persona que soy y lo que el Señor tiene para mi vida después.
It is likewise with mixed emotions that I send you my “going home letter.” As I've been reflecting on the things I've learned and the experiences I've had, I have felt so much gratitude and love for my Heavenly Father for giving me the opportunity to serve as a full-time missionary.
Through the experiences on my mission, I've come to a greater understanding of how my Heavenly Father speaks to me and loves me. The summer before I began my mission, while I was still trying to decide whether or not I should serve, I felt like I couldn't receive an answer. I kept praying and praying to know if a mission was the right thing for me. I finally submitted my mission papers without feeling like I had received an answer, only that I knew a mission was a good thing and I wanted to do it. Many times on my mission I've prayed and sought for an answer through my feelings without receiving anything. I've come to realize that my Heavenly Father normally speaks to me through my thoughts.
Since then, I've had more revelatory experiences. Occasionally, thoughts will come to my mind that are so clear and so powerful that I know they didn't come from me. For example, I was washing dishes one day in my apartment and the impression came to me that I needed to change my major to something else I was considering. It was very specific. Another day I was praying and the thought came to me that I need to live with my older sister, not with my parents, when I return home. These lightning-like experiences don't happen every day but happen often enough that I can recognize a pattern in the way my Heavenly Father reveals His plan to me.
I love the scripture in Romans 8 that says, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I can't always feel this outpouring of love, but I have felt what is described in D&C 121:33: “What power shall stay the heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.” I know that God loves me because He speaks to me in such a personal sense and pours knowledge upon my head in a way that I can understand and receive it.
On my mission, I’ve also learned what it means to be happy. In Preach My Gospel, it states that more happiness than I’ve ever experienced awaits me on my mission. I used to think that that meant that I wouldn’t have any trials and that happiness would come easily. My mission has been a happy experience, but more importantly, it’s taught me how to be happy through the trials and the disappointments. I know now that real, lasting joy comes from making and keeping covenants.
Before my mission, I don't think I could have explained that the Gospel of Jesus Christ means having faith in him, repenting, making and renewing baptismal covenants, following the guidance of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. I know that because of the infinite atonement of Jesus Christ, living his Gospel will bring me happiness in any situation. There have been so many times on my mission where I’ve felt overwhelmed and unable to continue. And now at the end of my mission, I feel overwhelmed by how far I’ve come. I know that I couldn’t have done it on my own.
I also feel that my mission has increased my overall quality of life. Before, I enjoyed going to church, reading the scriptures, waking up early, planning, exercising, getting to know people, etc. Now, I really love all of those things! I also have a greater appreciation for the things I’ve given up, especially my family. There are even some things that I didn’t like before that I enjoy now! For example, embracing the awkward. I feel so blessed that I was given the opportunity to serve!
The final lesson that I've learned on my mission (or will at least be sharing in this letter) is how to be bold. Before my mission, I studied Spanish for two years in high school and three semesters at BYU. When I submitted my papers, everyone guessed I'd go Spanish speaking. My Patriarchal Blessing also implies that I'll have the opportunity to learn a language on my mission. When I was called English speaking, I was pretty disappointed but willing to serve wherever and however. Still, my Dad and my Spanish teacher promised me that I'd have the opportunity to speak Spanish. I didn't believe them because I didn't think there was a large Hispanic population in Virginia.
Anyway, a few months later I told you that I wanted to speak Spanish on my mission. To be honest, I thought you had forgotten and I decided that it was never going to happen. However, my trainer Sister Olsen was really great and encouraged me to study Spanish while she studied Portuguese for language study. During my next interview with you, you informed me I was going to become an Hermana in two weeks! There have been many times where I've wondered if I stepped out of my bounds to make that happen or if that was what my Heavenly Father really wanted for my mission. Then, something that you shared a Sisters' Meeting really impacted me: “If you ever feel like a little pebble on the beach, try being a little bolder.” I related this to my Patriarchal Blessing. Many wonderful blessings have been promised me, but I know that they won't come to pass unless I prepare myself to be worthy of them and boldly pursue opportunities to fulfill them.
I'm so grateful that I was able to serve as both a Sister and an Hermana. Both callings helped me learn to be bold. It's really easy to talk to everyone because I feel confident preaching the Gospel in English and in Spanish. I really know what it means to talk to everyone. I have loved being a missionary and I hope that I will also love being a full-time finder after my mission. I have a powerful testimony that if I talk to everyone, God will place people in my path because He knows that He can trust me.
As for my greatest missionary experience, I had the opportunity to help a 10 year old boy named Robert be baptized while serving in Stafford with Hermanas Peñaloza and Clark. His grandma was a member, but his parents were not. His grandma would take him to church every week and he wanted to be baptized. All of the members of the Branch discouraged us, saying that his parents were never going to give in. One day, we felt inspired to visit his parents and ask them for their opinion. We stopped by and Robert’s dad was outside washing the car. We started to chat with him about it and he explained that he felt that Robert was too young and didn’t know enough. We helped the dad understand our purpose as missionaries to teach him and prepare him for baptism. He agreed and we put Robert on date for the end of the month!
At the same time, Robert’s grandma began working in housekeeping at a hotel. She had to work Sundays and was no longer able to bring him to church. The parents weren’t very cooperative and kept taking Robert and his sister on family outings on Sundays. One Sunday I fasted that Robert would be able to come to church. We set up a ride and called his parents in the morning to confirm. His dad said that they already had plans. My companions and I were so disappointed! When we got to church, right before Sacrament Meeting started, Robert showed up with his grandma! She had miraculously been given the day off!
About a week and a half before the baptism, we still hadn’t been able to teach him any of the missionary lessons. Both of his parents and his grandma worked, and he was often away from home being baby sat by other people. We weren’t sure if he would be ready in time or be prepared to keep the baptismal covenant. One day my companions and I decided to stop by, only to discover that his grandma had had an injury in her work and had dislocated her shoulder! She was to be on medical leave for the next few months. The Lord works in mysterious ways! In one week we taught him all of the missionary lessons and he was baptized!
This was one of the greatest experiences of my mission because I had to rely on my Heavenly Father and trust that He would prepare a way for Robert to be baptized. It was also impressive to see Robert’s faith. Even though we weren’t meeting with him continuously the month before his baptism, he read from the Book of Mormon almost every day. At his baptism, his mom mentioned that his diligence in reading the scriptures convinced her to let him be baptized. That and Robert is just an adorable child and will someday be a great missionary!
Thank you so much, President Wilson, for all you’ve done to make these learning experiences possible! I feel so humbled to have had the opportunity to serve in the Virginia Richmond Mission. I’m sad to be going home, but excited about the new person I’ve become and what the Lord has in store for me next.
Well people, I don't have much to say today because I was trying to finish my "going-home-letter" to President Wilson, which I will send to all of you.
This week was super great! Hermana McRae and I did go to the mall (on P-day) and I did find a cute "going-home-shirt" so that was nice:)
We did a blitz/finding exchange with the YSA Sisters and I got to go on campus with Sister Fuhriman. I was a little nervous while in the car...and then we got on campus and it was awesome! I love talking to people and I love being bold:)
On Wednesday we went to Panera Bread with the same Sisters to celebrate mine and Sister Greer's 18 month mark! Wow. I can't believe I haven't seen Mom in 18 months. I miss you Mommy:) and Hapa too. Also, Dad will you please stop having health scares while Amelia and I are in the mission field??? You're old, but not THAT old;)
There's a less active YW we visit with, who's less active because she has to work on Sundays:( but she's really sweet and she wants to get into BYU! We went and watched a episode of the District with her and she loved it! And now she's thinking about going on a mission! Mission accomplished:)
We also went to visit her at work once (5 Guys), and her co-worker fell in love with me...And told her that he wants to meet with missionaries now. So we went by on Saturday night to get his contact information. Then after collecting it, we informed him that he lives in the Elders' area;) haha! But then we invited him to church and he's interested in coming, so that's neat. He has no idea that I'll be out of here before he can get baptized;)
We did a full exchange with Hermanas Draper and Lindo. Hermana Lindo came and served with me in our area. She and I served together over the summer in the Stafford Branch, so it was great to be with her again! She's a convert of about two years and has such an awesome testimony! Sometimes it's discouraging because none of her investigators are as "golden" as she was when she was an investigator, but I promised her that one day it will happen, as long as she talks to everyone:)
Saturday night was the Womens' Meeting and I cried a bit during the first song, "How Firm a Foundation." When I was in the choir for the YW General Broadcast 5 years ago, we sang that song too. It's cool (and a little overwhelming) to see how much I've changed in 5 years! I also miss my Mommy and sisters. I thought Mom and Darci had tickets? Did Millie get to watch it?
Earlier that day, I was praying about my General Conference questions...which are...what next??? What does God have in store for me next? And then the whole broadcast was about families. So that's neat.
Anyway, I had a great week of working hard, talking to everyone, and preaching the Gospel. Hermana McRae and I have been referring to this upcoming week as "party week" the whole transfer. Tomorrow we have Spanish Meeting in Richmond. Wednesday is MLC. (So we're going to stay the night.) Thursday is the temple trip. (Maybe Dad will show up since he'll be in Baltimore??) Friday is Zone Meeting, and we'll probably have to do weekly planning that day, too. Saturday and Sunday are General Conference, and Alejandro (part-member family) is getting baptized on Sunday between sessions. Monday is Zone P-day and I'll be packing. Tuesday is Transfer Meeting. On Wednesday...they're shipping me back home.
It should be a real party. Especially the temple trip:) But I promise to do my best to fill the crevices with as much work as possible:) I love you all lots.
-Shout out to Sister Olsen for signing up for my classes at BYU for me:)
-Shout out to Millie for being the cutest missionary Japan has ever seen.
-Shout out to Dad for being the best hapa/trooper/dad ever! (and to Mom for being his best friend.)
-Shout out to my companera Hermana McRae for helping me through all of the emotional challenges that come with finishing a mission.
-Shout out to Sister Greer for being SO AWESOME! I didn't know what to put as my subject line. She suggested it so... ;)