Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Stories about the Sacerdocio in Stafford!

Querida Familia,

     I had the craziest experience two weeks ago that I forgot to share. Hermana Horton was with Hermana Clark and me in Stafford on exchange. We street contacted this guy and he was very difficult to understand. I think he had both mental and physical disabilities. We invited him to learn more about the Gospel, and he said he lived in Culpeper (neighboring county). We asked if we could send missionaries to visit him, and he didn't want to give us any information. We left a card with him and then went on our way.

     About an hour later, we were heading back to the car to go home. It was dark out and about to start raining. The same guy ran out to us and handed us a CD. We asked him what it was and he started telling this story that none of us understood. We thanked him and then left. The CD was SUPER FUNNY! It's 13 tracks of a man telling religious stories in Spanish with music in the background. All of them are really cheesy and weird. We've been using it in language study to practice understanding:)

*Okay so now I'll tell you about my birthday:)

     I had dinner on Monday night with a part member family. The Sister made me a really beautiful princess cake! (We share the same first name, so she's aware that I'm a princess.) We invited her to be baptized and it actually went over really well! No one has ever done it before, and it just needed to happen. Hopefully something good will come of it!

     Tuesday, the actual day of my birth, was transfer day! We had a few lessons and we went to lunch with Hermano Dimas. Dimas is his first name, but that's what everyone calls him. He loves Asian food, so we went to a Japanese buffet! It was really yummy and I felt super special! It was also 99 degrees that day :P It's been very hot the past week or two.

     On Wednesday, we had a Laurel with us, so we went on splits. Hermana Clark and I knocked in the trailer park for 3 hours. We knocked into Hermano Dimas while he was working on someone's air conditioning, and that was super funny! We'll also found an amazing investigator named Julia! She's from Honduras, and three of her kids still live there. She got pretty emotional about it. We shared the plan of salvation with her and she loved it! We went back yesterday and made her husband an investigator too. We taught the restauracion and they really liked it! She said that they had never heard of Jose Smith before. I explained that as missionaries, we go around the world to preach the Gospel--that God has again called a prophet to lead and guide us. They loved it! I love them:)
Catching Baby Frogs!
Eating Ants??!

     We also had a neat experience Wednesday in the trailer park. A few weeks ago, Hermana Penaloza mentioned that while in the DC South Mission, they tried a door approach a few times where they offered to bless the person's home. As missionaries, even Sisters, we have authority to preach the Gospel, which is a priesthood function. (PMG says, "your calling gives you authority, keeping your covenants gives you power.") We knocked into a woman named Porfiria. She was really timid and seemed sick and said she was too busy at the moment. While chatting with her, I received the strongest impression that we needed to bless her home. I don't normally receive revelation that way, so it came as a surprise. Especially since Hermana Penaloza had only mentioned it once a few weeks earlier. I asked her if we could bless her home, and she invited us in.

     I had no idea what I was about to do, and I didn't know which words to say. Not even in English, and I would need to offer the prayer in Spanish. I invited her to kneel with us in her living room. I asked Porfiria if there was anything she wanted me to include in the prayer and she said no. I started by saying "por la virtud del sacerdocio y la autoridad que poseemos, dejamos una bendicion en esta casa." Which means, "by the virtue of the priesthood and the authority that we possess, we leave a blessing on this home." I then tried listening to the Spirit and leaving very specific blessings. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my mission--and my life--thus far.

     We went by the following day for an appointment, and Porfiria seemed completely different. She was still timid and shy, but she didn't seem sick at all. Hermana Clark mentioned that the inside of her home felt and looked different. It wasn't as dark, it looked cleaner, and I even wondered if the paint color had changed.

     I know that the priesthood power is real. Even though I don't hold the priesthood or priesthood keys, my life is blessed by it. As a missionary, I can share those blessings with the people I teach. We had dinner this past week with the Santiago family (recent converts) and talked about the priesthood. It was cool to share with their teenage daughter that the "priesthood stuff" applies to her too! Hermana Santiago is a single mom, and we talked about the authority that she has in her home. Her oldest son is a deacon, and by worthily holding the priesthood he can be a blessing in their home. I love the priesthood!:)

Fredericksburg North Zone Missionaries
*And now here's a story that will probably make Mommy super happy.

     Our Ward Mission Leader has to work a lot on Sundays. During Sacrament Meeting, I asked his wife, Hermana Morgan, if I could sit with her and their three little boys. THEY ARE SO CUTE! I always bring coloring pages with me on Sundays so I can pass them out to kids. They loved it! And during the Sacrament, I pulled out the pamphlet of Evangelio and showed them pictures of the Savior. They were so excited! I asked the oldest son about the bread and the water and what it means. The Spirit was so strong and they were all so reverent. I couldn't stop smiling all during the meeting! I love those little boys and I can't wait to be a Mommy. I hope I can do half the job my Mommy did.

Hermanas Crandall & Penaloza
     I'm super excited that Lindsay will be a Mommy this week! I'm a little bitter that it didn't happen on the 17th, but that's okay:)

I love you so much familia! Thank you for all the birthday wishes and cards!

Love,  Hermanita Crandallita

Monday, June 16, 2014

Six More Weeks in Stafford!

Buenas Tardes Familia!

     Yes, I was shocked too! Transfer calls were Saturday night and we did NOT receive a call. This means that Hermana Clark and I get to kill Hermana Penaloza!
It's kind of difficult, because I feel I'm ready to leave Stafford. I really love this place, but I've also spent my entire mission here (besides 2 or 3 weeks in Mechanicsville, and one companion was sick so we hardly left the apartment). By the end of this transfer, I'll have finished 10 months. I also want to be a trainer some day!! Most of the Sisters I came out with have already trained. It's a little different now that I'm an Hermana, so I need more time to prepare. In December, about 6 or 7 Hermanas will go home and I'll be the next one to go home after them--and I don't finish until April. (I'm also the only Hermana at my "age" because the other one was sent home for medical reasons.) So I think my opportunities to serve as a trainer or Hermana training leader will come then :) I'm really grateful that Hermana Penaloza is my companion now, because she's an Hermana training leader and I've learned a lot from her! It's kind of humbling to spend another transfer here, but I'm so grateful that I love my companions and they love me!

*Anyway, here's all that's going on!

     La familia Gomez didn't keep their appointments this past week. The work has been pretty difficult because most of our investigators do this. We teach them once or twice, and then never again. Hermano Gomez seemed interested in reading the Book of Mormon, so hopefully we'll be able to get into contact with them again!

     Nancy was our miracle lesson a few weeks back. We taught her and then put her on date for baptism and to be married. And then we haven't seen her since. We finally caught her outside yesterday and met her husband. She can't make her date anymore (she needs to attend church at least 3 times) so we'll try to help her really start progressing.

     We had a miracle lesson with a woman named Delia! We were visiting some potentials, and we heard someone talking on the phone in Spanish. She was in her backyard across the street and she talks loud--kind of like Grandpa Kelsey in the Temple. We went and knocked on her door. She was still on the phone but invited us in. Then she told the people on the phone (long distance to Peru!) that three lovely ladies had just shown up and she needed to talk to them! This was after about 1.5 hours of fruitless knocking and we still had 2.5 to go. And it gets HOT and HUMID in Virginia. We taught Delia a little about the plan of salvation. She accepted a baptismal invite and said she wanted to go to church! After the closing prayer, she drew a cross on her chest. She gave us a weird look and asked if we do that in our church. We said no and explained how we focus more on the resurrection of Christ, not his death on the cross. She said she agreed and that if she died in a car accident, she wouldn't want her children to wear mangled up cars around their necks :)

     The work has been pretty slllooooowwww because of Mundial. We're going to start keeping track of how many lessons fall through because of partidos. On Sunday, we tried to visit a Honduran family. They didn't answer the door, but we could see that Honduras was playing France through the window. We know it's half time when we're in the trailer park and all the kids come out to play calle (street soccer) and the dads start barbecuing. We're going to stop by McDonalds this week to get a calendar/schedule of all the partidos so we can plan around them!

     We've also had three exchanges this week. We're supposed to have 6 each transfer (for Hermana Penaloza's calling) and we kind of procrastinated a bit. It was pretty exhausting to have people in and out, but we made it through:)

     On Wednesday we also had Sisters Meeting! President Wilson said that at the Mission President Seminar/Training last summer, former Mission Presidents were talking about how the number of Sisters will go from about 15 per mission to 30 per mission. We all started laughing, because we have over 100 in the Richmond Mission! The theme was spiritual gifts. I learned that missions are great training grounds to receive all of the spiritual gifts! If I'm diligent and obedient, I can qualify for the gift of tongues, charity, wisdom, knowledge, differences of administration, discerning of Spirits, working of miracles, prophesy, etc. After the meeting, I studied my patriarchal blessing and identified the spiritual gifts I have, and the ones that I want to have in order to accomplish the things I'm supposed to do in my life. It's been a great topic of study!

     Last month we had a party for Mothers Day that the men were in charge of planning. Friday we had the Fathers Day activity that the women prepared. We were able to help set up and the decorations were really cute! It almost seemed like a competition between the Hermanos and Hermanas to see who could plan the best party. I think the Fathers Day one was better :) at least the food and decorations were! The RS and YW also prepared dances and it was really fun! I miss dancing and I hope I can do more of it after my mission!

     Sunday was Fathers Day! In Sacrament meeting all of the talks were about the Word of Wisdom--I don't know why. But I learned a lot! Hermano Manriquez talked about the Scripture in Alma 37 where Alma teaches his son to "learn wisdom in thy youth." He applied this to the Word of Wisdom and encouraged the youth to take care of their bodies NOW so that they can be healthy when they're older. It's so important to develop good habits! My mission has been a great experience for me because I've learned to eat better and exercise more. I LOVE exercising! Next to personal study, it's one of my favorite times of the day! My patriarchal blessing specifically mentions the importance of living the Word of Wisdom. I hope I can qualify for all of the blessings that apply to it!

     So yes. Fathers Day! Happy Hapa Day to my Daddy, who is my best friend! I wrote a little about him last month for his birthday, but I will now share this story: Once when we first moved to UT, my Dad kidnapped me. He snuck into our room early one Saturday morning (I shared with Millie) and said that he was going to kidnap me. We went to a grocery store and got donuts for the whole fam in my PJs:) This is one of my happiest memories! Thank you Dad for all you do!

     And tonight we have the most exciting and scary lesson of my life. We're fasting which is good because I'm super nervous. I don't want to give a ton of details, but we're kind-of-ish working with a part member family and we really feel like it's the right time for baptism. We're not sure how she feels about it, but I guess we'll find out tonight!:)


I love you all so much:) Have a happy week!

Hermanita Crandall

*PS Shout out to my sister Darci who received her endowment in the Temple this past week! I can't wait to be with all of my family in the temple some day:)

*PPS Shout out to my other sister Lindsay who will probably most likely hopefully give birth tomorrow to my favorite sobrina Claire!:)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Del Salvador Stafford

Querida Familia,

     I have begun praying frequently that Lindsay will have her baby on June 17th. I could think of no better birthday present! I was born three weeks early and Mommy's labor only lasted 45 minutes. (My personality hasn't changed much since.) It could happen, Ninny:)

     Speaking of my birthday...Last Monday I went to the Spotsylvania Mall with my companions and the Fred Hermanas to do a little bit of birthday shopping! Because I started my mission in the fall, I brought mostly sweaters and long-sleeved shirts, and I'm in desperate need of cooler clothes. It's been very hot and humid and it rains a lot too!

     On Tuesday we were able to help paint in a part-member home. It was my first time painting, and I think I did a really good job!:) We're working really slowly with this family, but we're hoping to see some miracles.

     President Wilson has been encouraging working with the members more. We've started having two or more Noches de Hogar every week (FHE). Last week we had two -- the first was with la familia Santiago (baptized in January), and an active family. Hermana Santiago prepared the agenda and everything. It was a great experience for them to learn how to have a Noche in their home! Hermana Santiago is also trying to read through the entire Libro de Mormon before September and she's already in 1 Nefi 19! We also had a Noche with a less active family. Apparently missionaries haven't been able to get in for over a year! We read the story of the truck, snow, and wood from Elder Bednar's recent conference address. We didn't tell them Elder Bednar's explanation, but asked them to tell us what they learned from the story. They came to a completely different conclusion than he did! It was really neat to see how the Spirit was able to reveal to them what they needed to know. They know the church is true, they have pictures of the temple all over their home, it's just a matter now of getting them into the church building. We have high hopes for this family!

     District Meeting this week was wonderful! The Zone Leaders attended, so there were 9 of us. (Us, Fred Hermanas, Fred Spanish Elders, Zone Leaders.) We did the Christlike Attribute activity in PMG and each of us prepared a 5 minute spiritual thought on an assigned attribute. Surprisingly enough, I was assigned hope--which is what I studied last month!

     Our District Leader was talking about humility, and how Christ showed humility without retaliating to the Roman Soldiers, even though he (and probably they) knew he was innocent. I started pondering about why, and I learned that Pilate or any of those other guys are not our judge. Our only judge is God! Sometimes I get so caught up in worrying what other people are thinking, when it just doesn't matter. Only God has the power to judge me because this is His plan and I am His daughter.

     One of the other Elders talked about virtue and he said that he learned virtue can also mean excellence. He read the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 121 and replaced "virtue" with "excellence." As missionaries, having excellent thoughts means we are focused on our purpose.

     So back to the back drama. I started physical therapy on Thursday. The whole awkward wearing garments thing happened when the doctor gave me the most painful back massage of my life....so that was probably the most embarrassing moment of my mission thus far. He tried to untuck it and was really confused and I'll just stop with the details there :( Mommy, you give much better back massages and you don't make me feel uncomfortable. BUT, he taught me some good exercises that I have to do 3x a day and I'm still taking the medicine from the other doctor. I've felt more flexible and I've been able to hula dance again! (Which I did with my companions and the Accokeek Sisters last night in our apartment.) I'm going back this week and then hopefully never again:)

     Last week I wrote briefly about la familia Gomez. We were able to teach Hermano Gomez again this past week, and he is golden! He was really honest about not knowing the Bible very well, but said that he believes it's true and based on everything we've said, he thinks the Book of Mormon is true too! He has a wayward son, so he just loves us and thinks we're the greatest "jovenes" in the world.

     One of the women in the ward, Hermana Messinger, helped plan a big triathlon, and all of the missionaries in the zone were able to help out. We spent a few hours at a park on Saturday morning. (Don't worry Mommy, I wore sunscreen! Don't worry Dad, I'm getting a little more tan!) Afterwards, I went home with the Fred Hermanas to do an exchange so that Hermana Penaloza could train Hermana Clark alone. It was really neat to see how the area has changed since I left!

     We were able to visit and teach Tony. I don't think I've talked about him before, but he is the cutest 10 year old around. His parents aren't very interested, and their relationship with Tony seems a little off. They're rarely home because they work so much and Tony is often locked out of the house. I'm not sure what all is going on, but Tony craves missionary attention. He loves to be loved. (And I think he might be mildly autistic because some of his behavioral patterns are strange.) The Elders said that when they're in the apartment complex, Tony will accompany them in lessons and follow them around as they tract. Anyway, we were able to teach him the law of chastity and the word of wisdom. He promised to not have children until after he's married in the temple!:)

     The best part was right at the end, when we started to lose his attention. He kept doing these cute "tricks" on the ground like cartwheels and spins. Then he lifted the corner off the couch to show off his strength. The other two Hermanas (Lindo and Dangerfield) were sitting on one couch, and he said he wanted to lift it. They both scooted to the front of the couch and put their weight on their feet so it looked like they were sitting down. Tony felt so cool:) He should be getting baptized pretty soon! Hermana Agurcia and I put him on date a couple weeks ago.

     Yesterday we had Branch Conference. All of the Stake Leaders and the Mission Presidency attended. Hermano Manriquez taught the second hour in Spanglish (for the benefit of the Stake Leaders) and it was such a great lesson! He talked about the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 88 that says to have our sight only on God's glory. I've never thought a lot about what that means before then. God's glory is our immortality and eternal life! This is achieved in temples. We need to have our sights on the temple--whether it's for our own salvation, or the salvation of our dead.

     After church, my back was hurting a lot and we didn't have a lesson. Just a lot of knocking. Finally, after 1.5 hours of knocking, we found a lesson in the most Hispanic home I've yet to witness. They had three flags out front - America, Virginia, and Honduras. There were also 15 cars (I counted). Approximately 10 people live there. And there were chickens and children running around on the property. We taught the message of the Restoration and I invited them to be baptized. One of the men said, "well that was pretty fast...but sure, if I know it's true!" And then they basically invited themselves to church. It was such a miracle!

     Oh, and one of them asked me where I was from. Before I could answer, another said "Del Salvador!" I explained that I was from Utah, not El Salvador, but then he said it was a joke because I'm a representative of the Savior! How cool is that?:) All of the studying, preparing, applying, sacrament-taking, door-knocking, praying...everything that we do as missionaries is to help others recognize us as representatives of our Lord Jesus Christ so that we can help them accept His Gospel. I can't even put into words how privileged I feel to wear the name of Jesucristo next to the name of my family. I love this Gospel. I love testifying of Jesus Christ! I love telling others about Joseph Smith. I really understand the song "Praise to the Man" now. I'm so grateful for all that he went through to bring to light the knowledge of all that our Savior went through. I love my mission!

I hope you all have a great week! I love you all so much:)

Hermanita Crandall

*PS - Transfer calls are on Saturday! And transfers are next Tuesday, which also happens to be my birthday :P If you're going to send anything, send it today or tomorrow or I might not get it! I have no idea whether or not I'll be transferred. I've spent 8 months of my mission in the same zone, but I've only been in this area for one transfer and Hermana Penaloza goes home next month. We'll see:)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Fireflies in Stafford!!!

Clark - Dangerfield - Crandall - Lindo
Querida Familia,

     I SAW FIREFLIES!! For the very first time last night!

     We were driving home from a lesson with la familia Gomez at 9:15 last and we drove through a giant sparkling field:) I am so happy!

     Anyway so my week. I've been sick since last Sunday, but I'm starting to get over it. I've been taking some medication to help my back, but it killed my immune system. I'm starting physical therapy this week. There will be a little bit more soreness, and then hopefully this 6 month episode will be over! I just feel very blessed that the problems aren't any worse. I don't need serious medical attention, I don't have to go home, and I can still focus on the work. I'm really grateful with my Heavenly Father for all that he has done for me the past few months!

     There aren't as many Hispanics in Stafford as there are in Fredericksburg, but we're still keeping busy and we have some great investigators! There's one family in particular that I really love! The have 3 girls. The oldest girl is my age, and she's about to graduate high school. She already graduated back in her home country, but they put her in school again so she could learn English. The other two girls have lived in the States longer so they have great English. We see them about once or twice a week. They are active Catholics, but love to learn and are willing to change. Yesterday we taught them the Plan of Salvation. The 2nd oldest girl loved learning about the Spirit World and how people will have an opportunity to repent and progress while there.

     There's this wonderful trailer park in Stafford called Foxwood. We spend lots of time there:) In Spanish, they say "TRY-ler" and it's pretty funny:) We taught the Plan of Salvation to a woman named Blanca on her front porch. She was nodding her head and loving all of it. She expressed her desire to go to the Celestial Kingdom. We talked about how we need to act in order to receive what God is willing to give us. She was completely receptive until we invited her to go to church. She wouldn't commit to it, and said she's only go if God puts the desire in her heart. She said that if she woke up Sunday morning and didn't feel like going, that meant that it wasn't God's will for her to go. We were a little bold with explaining that we need to act before we gain faith and desire, but she wouldn't understand it. There are a lot of people like this--they love listening to the Gospel, but once it comes to acting, they don't want any part of it.

     We had Zone Meeting on Friday and I learned so much! And sorry I don't have lots of great missionary stories this week--I've learned a lot and I prefer to share that:)

     One sister shared the story of 2 Nephi 5 and how the Nephites lived "after the manner of happiness." We looked at some of the things that happened at the beginning of the chapter that contributed to their happiness. We talked about how they followed God's commandments, they were industrious, they built a temple, they brought their scriptures, etc. As we discussed all of these things, I received some revelation! In my notebook, I began categorizing all of their actions with the 9 Christlike attributes from Preach My Gospel. I found an action that exemplifies each of the 9 attributes! When we live and apply the Christlike attributes, we will be happy! This is how we can live "after the manner of happiness" because we're living in the same manner that the Savior did. And I imagine that he's pretty happy:) He's sad when we are, yes, but he has a fullness of joy.

     She also talked about some of Nephi's challenges and they compare to the challenges of a missionary:

-Leaving Jerusalem - leaving home
-Eating raw meat - eating gross things at members' homes
-Broken bow - broken bike
-Mean brothers - mean people

-And there are lots more. It's pretty funny and I recommend looking into it more:)

     Hermana Penaloza (who is an Hermana Training Leader) did a training on gratitude. She started with the question, "Why does God command us to be grateful?" To be honest, I never thought about WHY. I just knew it was important to be grateful. Then I received some more revelation:) We learn from Doctrine and Covenants 130 that certain blessings are predicated on obedience to certain commandments. God gives us commandments for our own protection and so that he can bless us when we obey them. Gratitude is one of the most merciful commandments! God has given us everything we have and are. We have oodles of things to be grateful for! When we show gratitude for what we've been given, then He can bless us with more things! It's such an easy commandment with such amazing blessings! Then Hermana Penaloza reminded us to "esmile" :)

     In companionship study the other day, we talked about how Laman and Lemuel kept repenting and then sinning and then repenting again. I had a realization - change is REALLY hard. Why change if we're going to change back only to need to change again? We should just change once to be who God wants us to be, and then endure.

     Anyway, I've just been learning a lot in comp study, personal study, meetings, etc. I feel like I've had an outpouring of revelation in the past few weeks and I love it!

     Yesterday Sacrament meeting was amazing! I started feeling in the morning that I needed to bear my testimony in church. After the first two testimonies were finished, I stood up to move to the front. I did so at the exact same time as Hermana Penaloza (we were sitting on opposite sides of the chapel), an Elder, and about 3 other members! The Spirit was so strong!:) I feel very blessed to be able to speak Spanish now. I'm not completely fluent, but I understand just about everything (except random vocabulary words) and I can say what I want to. It is a privilege to learn a language on my mission, especially Spanish. Preach My Gospel says that God has invested a lot in me!

     Y hay cosas que solamente puedo explicar en espanol. Que siento muy bendecida por esta oportunidad. Estoy agradecida con mi Padre Celestial! Estoy feliz, y amo a mi mision mucho!:)

K I love you! Cuidense:)

Hermanita Crandall