Monday, August 25, 2014

so many miracles in Stafford!

Querida Familia,

I love you all so much!:)

     On Monday, we had Sisters' P-day. We went to Government Island (my 3rd time) and just walked around. It wasn't as peaceful as the first two times because we were in a large group of people;) But Hermana Quinones and I want to go back one morning to go running.

     On Tuesday we had Espanish Meeting in Richmond! Marco drove us, as always. He has a really quirky and funny personality. He told us all about the drama in the YSA Branch--about who's dating who and how some of the guys just can't get a date. It was pretty funny. Marco wears A LOT of cologne so sometimes after we shake hands, I smell like cologne, haha. Anyway, in the meeting, we talked a lot about finding and then preparing people to enter the temple. We really want to help Robert's grandma get to the temple now that she's not working on Sundays! We also talked about how to teach quality lessons. It's really easy, as a Spanish missionary, to get caught up in quantity because of how many people let us in. But we have to make sure that they are having life-changing, spiritual experiences every lesson!

     President Wilson shared this quote by President Spencer W. Kimball: "The Lord places in our lives, in a very natural way, those who are prepared to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ." Then President Wilson added on: "But he doesn't place a yellow sticker on their foreheads."

     I know this to be so true! Hermana Quinones is pretty shy, and I'm very bold. I've been trying to help her talk to everyone, even when it seems a little awkward. Even when they're not Hispanic! Last week we street contacted a young looking guy, Hispanic, who was listening to headphones. He took them off and started chatting with us. His name is Miguel and he recently arrived from El Salvador. We invited him to come to church on Sunday, and he accepted! And he came!!! Number wise, it doesn't count for anything because he's not an investigator yet, but we got someone to church! And he had a great experience. If we had decided to not talk to him because he was wearing headphones, or because he seemed young (and probably uninterested), then we would have never seen this miracle. If we don't talk to someone, then we're judging them to be a "no." The answer is always no if you don't ask! Through this experience and many more, I've learned the importance of talking to everyone. When I focus on my purpose and why I'm here, it helps me have more confidence. I have the most important message in the world! Every non-member in Virginia is living a terrestrial or even telestial life. I'm here to invite them to live celestially:) not just here, but for the eternities. I really love talking to people now! (And yes, I do love tracting!)

     We also saw another miracle with a woman named Rubi. We street contacted her, and while we were talking, a car pulled over and called out to us (American). He asked me for my name and number...I gave him a tarjeta and invited him to come to church. He said he'd come if I was there. It was pretty embarrassing but Hermana Quinones thought it was hilarious. Anyway, we turned back to the woman and kept talking with her. She thought it was funny and it helped her open up to us a bit. (No the guy didn't show up at church.) But we had a great lesson with Rubi the following day! We've been struggling to find new investigators so it was so nice to teach the first lesson again!:) She said that she's been looking for a church ever since she came to the states, 3 years ago. She and her husband are trying to find a church where they can attend together with their family. Sweet:)

     And yet again, we had another miracle on Sunday! We only had one proselyting hour! We had studies in the morning, church, and then more studies after church. (We have more studies while Hermana Quinones is being trained.) Then we had dinner with a member at 4, and then we needed to leave for Tony's baptism in Fredericksburg by 6. So between 5 and 6, we had one hour. We set the goal of having a member present lesson and a new investigator. Dan, an RM, came with us to visit Belen. She wasn't home, but her daughter was! I pretty much invited us in...but we got in and taught a great lesson! Or, at least the SPIRIT taught a really great lesson. The girl invited herself to church! It was a huge miracle to get a quality member present lesson with a great new investigator!:)

     And about that baptism...Tony was baptized on Sunday! It was a very sweet service and I had the opportunity to talk about baptism and share my testimony. I showed him the program from my baptism that Grandma Crandall sent me. I'm so grateful for all of the support from the branch so that he could be baptized!:)

     On Saturday, we had a great Zone Conference with both the Fredericksburg Zone and the Woodbridge Zone and with Elder Anderson of the Seventy!
     President Wilson shared something really insightful. He asked us to guess the following Book of Mormon character: "I lived in Jerusalem with my family. My father received a vision and led us to the promised land. While in the wilderness, we returned to Jerusalem twice to get the brass plates and to bring the family of Ishmael with us. We arrived in the promised land by boat." Who is it? Laman! Hahaha:) Laman, Nefi, Lemuel, and Sam all passed through the same experiences. However, Nefi had a much better attitude! It's the same with missions. My attitude determines my mission. I really love my mission:)

     Elder Anderson talked about how knowing how to commune with Heaven is an important quality that he and other General Authorities look for when trying to determine who the Lord has called as a new Stake President. He also shared a really neat experience. When he was at the New Mission Presidents' Seminar in 2002 (he and his wife served in Guadalajara), President Packer came to the mic and said, "In the next five minutes, I'm going to share with you all that I've ever learned." Then he had someone come and sing hymn #114. Then President Packer came back to the mic and said, I'm going to have him sing it again, and I want you to listen. Then the man sang the song again. President Packer then closed with his testimony. How cool/powerful is that???:)

All in all it was a really great meeting and the Spirit was so strong!

I love you all so much and I hope you are super happy:)

Love, Hermanita Crandall

*PS- Sister Anderson had us play a scripture chase game. She started reading out of a random spot in the Book of Mormon. We had to try and find the verse, race to the front of the chapel, and continue reading where she left off. Just want you all to know that I won the first round;) She was reading in Words of Mormon. I really love the Book of Mormon. I'm going to finish it twice this week. (I'm reading from two different books right now.) That makes about 11 or 12 times. Thank you, Mommy and Hapa, for teaching me to love this book! <3

Monday, August 18, 2014

Spanish Fun in Stafford!

Querida Familia,

Hi everyone,

     Funny story, our APs are Elders Unga and Collie! I'm pretty sure Elder Collie is the brother of Austin Collie...not sure about Elder Unga and Harvey. Anyway, we had a half-day Zone Conference on Wednesday and the APs gave a training on how we need to have the faith to set people on date three weeks in advanced. In order to get baptized, they have to attend church three times. It's a tendency to want to set them 5 or 6 weeks in advance so that they have some wiggle room. They encouraged us to increase our faith to find those who are truly searching for the truth by inviting people to be baptized in 3 weeks.

     After Zone Conference, we had a little comp study and decided that we were going to put Enrique on date for September 6th! Last minute, our member present canceled. When we went for the lesson, he wasn't there. We decided to go to the trailer park (which we lovingly refer to as "Hispanic Heaven") and do some knocking. The very first door we knocked, a woman named Pamela answered and let us in. We did some "how to begin teaching" and helped her understand our purpose as missionaries. She talked about her beliefs and how she wants to better understand the Bible. We talked about baptism and how it's the beginning of our camino. We then invited her to be baptized on September 6th and she accepted!!! Her next door neighbor is a member, and she said that he's invited her to meet with missionaries before and she's always been kind of interested. It was definitely a miracle!:)

     Also, Enrique went on to drop us this week. It was really sad because he came to church, loved it, loved the Book of Mormon, but was talked out of it by his parents. It's interesting how we as missionaries spend so much trying to prepare someone, and then God will place someone in our paths who is already prepared.

     Our weekly planning date was switched to Thursday which is much superior to Friday. Hermana Quinones and I have begun doing our weekly planning at the church building to help us stay more focused and to bring the Spirit. This past week, the weather was super nice so we brought a table outside. While we were there, a car pulled up with a man and two kids. He walked over to us and asked if we had seen two young men who were supposed to give him a tour of the church building. We chatted with him a bit until the Elders showed up. This man was golden! He talked about how excited he was to come to church on Sunday, and he had only met the Elders the night before! Miracles are happening in this zone:)

     On Tuesday, President Wilson called the Sisters that we live with (Accokeek) and asked if he could do companionship study with them on Friday. I had a strong feeling that when he showed up, he was going to ask to have an interview with me. Then he called me on Thursday and said that he would like to have an interview with me after he studied with the other Sisters. I was really nervous for the interview, just like I was for the one before. But, it ended up being a really great and spiritual experience. He asked about how training was going and about the miracles we've been seeing. And then I'm not sure how it came up, but he asked me pretty directly if I had good self-esteem. I haven't thought about that in a while because I've been trying really hard not to think about myself. When he asked me that, I started crying :P

     He then described a video that he had recently seen, and maybe you've seen it too? I'm not sure if it's a commercial, youtube video, or something by the church. He said it shows adults/teens and the moderator tells them to "run like a girl." Then they do something spastic or weird that mocks girls. The moderator goes on to tell them to "hit like a girl" and "throw like a girl." Then they do the same thing with 5 and 6 year old girls. They run and hit and throw as hard as they can. President Wilson then said, "I'm not sure what it is, but something happens to girls between the ages of 6 and 16 that tells them they're not good enough." I just started crying harder because I thought about how confident and happy I was when I was little Rahrah. And I feel confident and happy today, but there were some pretty rough years between then and now. The self esteem question is a hard one. I love my mission, my family, the Gospel, but I don't know if I love myself. I've definitely changed a whole lot on my mission, and I hope by the end that I'll have great self esteem.

     Anyway, sorry to get all emotional again. It was a really great interview and I feel like I have a much closer relationship with President Wilson now. He said that in the future, we'll be working together more. I'm really excited for the opportunity to be Hermana Training Leader, but right now I'm really loving being a trainer:) He asked if I had any questions, and I did mention the fact that I've been in Stafford for 8 transfers. He said to pray about it and let him know if I want to stay or leave next transfer. I have no idea what I want because I'm really stuck on this place, but I also want new experiences. We'll see:)

     On Friday, we also did exchanges. After Hermana Penaloza went home, there aren't any Hermana Training Leaders here anymore, so we exchanged with the English Sister Training Leaders, who are our roommates! Sister Nelson came with me to Stafford Spanish, and Hermana Quinones went to Accokeek with Sister Redd. It was a lot of fun because I got to do some translating during the lessons and Sister Nelson was able to learn more about Spanish work. We got offered food in every lesson;) We also saw a lot of miracles!

     We visited a family that lives on the very edge of the area. We asked for referrals, and they pointed to a street and said there was a Hispanic family at the second door on the right of the second building (really confusing directions). We drove over there, unsure if we were going to be able to find them. After we prayed and got out of the car, there was a man at the mailbox, and I thought he looked black. We decided to contact him and then ask where the Hispanic family lived. It ended up that he was the man we were looking for! He wasn't black, just darker than most Hispanics;) That was definitely a miracle.

     On Saturday night we had the long awaited Festival Latino! I will be sending a billion pictures. I apologize in advance that I purchased the cheapest camera at Walmart before my mission. Most of the pictures turned out horrible, but hopefully you can see how much fun it was:) The Mexicans wore fake mustaches, the Peruvians had the best food, the Bolivians had the neatest costumes, etc. I really love my Branch so much:) There were a couple other smaller tables for El Salvador, Colombia, Nicaragua, and Honduras, but most members are from Mexico, Peru, or Bolivia.

Okay that is all:)

con amor, Hermanita Crandall

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

a subject line about stafford

Querida Familia,
     I had a nice week:) Here's a little about our investigators:
     Belen (Spanish for Bethlehem) is beginning to progress! She is reading in the Book of Mormon. Her son is being taught by the English Elders, and we're hoping that they can attend church and be baptized together!
     We were able to see Yuri again this week, and she sincerely wants to know if the church is true. We have a big festival Latino on Saturday night, so hopefully she'll be able to make it!
     Jose y Alicia still work on Sunday, but we're praying that they'll be able to find new jobs! Hermano Morgan (WML) has been trying to help them.
     We decided to drop a lot of our investigators and focus only on those who are truly investigating the church. That way we can find more people who are ready!
     We had a lesson with the Santiago family which was probably one of the best lessons ever! We planned to talk about missionary work, so we made 5 mission calls, one for each member of the family. When we got to the house, we told them that we decided to collect the mail for them, and we found their mission calls! Isa (5 years old) was so excited! We sang "I hope they call me on a mission" and then they all got to open their calls. Isa was excited about going to India, but said she'd only go if we could go with her. Leo didn't want to go to Japan because he doesn't want to eat "ocean food." Hermana Monica received her call to Hawai'i:) It was a lot of fun and it helped them get excited about missionary work!
     We also got to see a family that I used to teach when I was in Accokeek! Do you remember those three cute little boys? Well, their Grandma is Hermana Miranda, who we sometimes meet with. The Accokeek Sisters gave us their teaching record, because the family moved and they stopped seeing them after I left. We were able to visit them this past week! Hermana Ana (the mom) was really excited, and I got to see her baby girl! She was pregnant when I used to visit them. The dad still won't let the boys be baptized, but at least we can keep teaching them! We're hoping the boys will soften their dad's heart.
     I have about a week left of my 40-day-fast, and I've made it thus far without candy! However, I sometimes really crave sweets. Before correlation on Wednesday, I mentioned to Hermana Quinones that I wanted donuts and I hoped that Hermano Morgan would bring some to the meeting. And that's what he brought! God loves me so much:)
     We got to visit with Hermana Monica again on Friday night because all of the missionaries from the branch went and did service at her house. (She used to have cancer and some of the treatments cause problems with her legs, and now she can't walk very well.) It was SO MUCH FUN! Hermano Morgan brought his cute three little hijitos and Mommy would have been so proud--I got them super excited about weeding!!! We did a competition to see who could make the biggest weed pile. And we sang songs and caught bugs. It was a lot of fun and we got it done quickly! The Elders mowed and edged the lawn and the other Hermanas cleaned inside. Doing service is one of my favorite parts of the mission! It's not as stressful and I get to wear pants for a few hours:)
     On Saturday we had another HUGE service project! It's called "School Dressing Days" and it's a community project sponsored by an interfaith organization. It's held at one of our church buildings in Fred every year because we have a lot of classrooms. Poorer families can sign up to come through and pick up new clothes and school supplies for their children. A lot of them speak Spanish, so there was a high demand for Spanish volunteers! President Wilson wanted all of the missionaries from the Fred North and South Zones to be involved. We went on Saturday for about four or five hours to help out.
     The families would wait in a room for volunteers to "pick them up." Then we would help them cycle through all of the classrooms to pick up shoes, jackets, shirts, underwear, backpacks, school supplies, etc. It was really huge! I had a lot of fun helping the Hispanic families through:) I even saw a lot of familiar faces! Member from the branch, or people I'd met in Fredericksburg. It was neat, but by the end my back was killing me again. Between weeding Friday night and carrying lots of heavy stuff on Saturday, I'm right back where I was before.
     Yesterday was a super special day for me because I celebrated one year from when I was endowed in the temple! August 10, 2013:) For personal study, I studied the ancient tabernacle in Exodus as well as some chapters from Moses and Abraham. I really love the temple! I miss it so much, and I can't wait to be able to enter again. I've forgotten a lot of it, so I am determined to be a temple worker when I get home! I also want to always live close to a temple.
     Anyway, I love all of you people so much! Please write me! I went 7 weeks without getting a letter:( But then Sister Miller sent me one this past week:) so hopefully a sister or two or Grandma Lor will send something this way:)
Espero que tengan un buen dia!
Hermanita Crandall

Monday, August 4, 2014

"Bien, aqui."

Queridita Familia,

     Hey fam! Happy Hispanic times are here in Stafford and I have so much to tell you about! PS - when you ask a Spanish speaker how they're doing, they almost always say, "bien, aqui." Which means, "well, here." Hahaha:) So yes. I'm here. In Stafford. Like always.

     Robert was BAPTIZED on Monday! All last week he kept asking us if members were going to come and if they were going to bring food. Well, everyone came, and they brought a lot of food! He was so happy! His parents were really touched, and his mom even cried a little. His knee poked out, and so they had to perform the ordinance again, but it all went great!:) Afterwards, when we asked him how he felt, he said, "like a temple." I love this kid!!

     Monday was also the most stressful P-day of my life because on top of the baptism, Hermana Clark had to pack to leave, Hermana Penaloza had to pack to go home, we moved furniture, and we cleaned the apartment. We had to stay up late and I had to get up early on Tuesday. But somehow we got it all done:)

     On Tuesday morning I had a trainers' meeting in Richmond. They talked about how we could help the new missionaries and adjust quickly and learn. I was feeling really nervous and really inadequate! Then we got to meet our trainees! My new companera is Hermana Quinones! (kee-NYO-nez, for all the gringitos out there!) She is Mexicana, but born and raised in Las Vegas. She said she lived in walking distance of the temple! She's my age, and her birthday is actually just right before mine--June 15th! We had a little luncheon and then transfers meeting. They had all of the departing missionaries sit on the stand. Hermana Penaloza just cried and cried. I hope I never have to go home...

      We rode in the transfer van back to Fred, where Hermana Clark and Hermana Penaloza left it. We both just slept on the way north:) The Fredericksburg Hermanas were whitewashed (again!!) so we helped them out a little bit and helped move some luggage. By the time we got back to the apartment, it was already 6:30 and we had missed our dinner appointment. Our lesson had canceled, so after Hermana Quinones unpacked a bit and we did a mini planning session, I took her out to knock some doors! She was pretty overwhelmed, but she did a great job!:) Her Spanish is great, she's just very shy. Give it a few weeks and she'll be even more bold than I am!:)

     This past week has been the most exhausting of my whole mission! And because my mission is harder than anything I've ever done before, it's probably been the most exhausting week of my life! Even more so than that one time I took 6 AP tests. When we were younger, I remember that Mom was always super excited about cleaning and washing dishes. Because of that, I enjoy doing those things now! I have Hermana Quinones convinced that I love updating the area book and making phone calls;) And that I love tracting. Which is true...I really do actually LOVE tracting:) I think one benefit of training when I'm further along in my mission is that I love my mission more. I hope that she can learn to love her mission as soon as possible!

     I know how hard the first few weeks are, so I've been trying to help by making meals and being 1000% positive about everything. I can see now how hard it must be to be a Mom! My focus for my mission has completely changed. Everything I do is now a teaching moment! Everything I do is to ensure that she's having a great experience and that she's becoming an effective and confident missionary. It's really draining, but also super rewarding. I really love Hermana Quinones and I'm so happy that I get to help her start her mission!:)

     One thing I've been focusing on with her is role plays. (She thinks I love those too!) Every day we do a role play in companionship study. Normally it's a lesson, but because she's shy, I've been trying to come up with some creative roleplays. On Sunday, we roleplayed meeting certain branch members. I also hid in the closet and made her knock on the door to practice door approaches. It was super funny and I felt like a weirdo!:) But they work!! Even in just a week, I've seen her open up a lot.
I did role plays with my other companions, but we always waited until the end of comp study to do them. Because of that, we usually ran out of time. I took this idea from Sister Miller: now we do our role plays at the beginning!

*So here's a follow-up on some of our investigators:

     Jose is still up for his date! Alicia said she wants to be more sure. Our branch mission leader, Hermano Morgan, is helping them find new jobs right now so they can go to church.

     Enrique..............well, we invited him to be baptized, fullying intending to put him on date, and he flat out said NO. Apparently he's Catholic and plans on dying that way. He's accepted a baptismal invite before, he loved church, and he's read 50 pages in el Libro de Mormon. He said that his parents won't let him be baptized and they don't want him to go to church anymore. It's kind of a tough situation, and I've never been so floored as a missionary. I had someone tell me that Joseph Smith saw aliens, and I was able to come up with something. Anyway, he said he still wants us to come by so we'll keep teaching him. I'll let you know how it goes;)

     This past week we were also able to help Monserrat, a primary girl from a part member family, prepare for her talk in primary about prayer. We helped her write it and find some scriptures. And then she wanted us to go with her and sing "A Child's Prayer" on Sunday. We showed up to the Primary opening exercises. She read her story, read the scriptures, and then said, "I will now sing with the missionaries." It was pretty cute. And the kids got very reverent during the song! I really love Monse, even when she's being a super sassy Mexicana:)

     We also got to spend some time with Hermana Monica (recent convert) while her kids were at Youth Conference. On Sunday, I could tell that there was something different about her kids. They seemed much more mature. Both of them bore their testimonies! It was a very sweet moment to see how they're growing spiritually! Makayla will start seminary in the fall!!

     Another girl from the ward, Kathy, received her missionary call! She will be going to Malaga, Espana, in November. We had dinner with her family on Sunday and gave her advice and looked through the clothes that she's picked out so far. I'm so happy!:) She'll be the first missionary from the branch in a while.

     My last story is something super special that happened to me yesterday! I've been experiencing a LOT of back pain these past few days from moving luggage and furniture. Also, I'm the driver now, and the driver's seat is very uncomfortable. I'm still taking the alleve, sometimes a double dosage, but it makes me feel tired and hurts my stomach. Yesterday I was feeling very inadequate. I've never had physical limitations like this, but now I feel like everything wears me out. Especially in the mornings, I always wake up with a lot of pain. I was pondering about it during personal study when the thought came to my mind: you deserve a Priesthood blessing. It was as if Heavenly Father was speaking to me, su hijita. I prayed about it and decided that I wanted to receive a Priesthood blessing from the branch mission leader, Hermano Morgan. The last time I received one was in February when I was very sick and lost a lot of weight.

     After church, I talked with Hermano Morgan and he invited us over to his house. I was able to get my blessing (in English) and it was very special. I was promised that I will be healed of all illnesses that I have or have had. He said that I would wake up the following morning without pain and that the medicine will no longer hurt my stomach. Normally before I got to bed and as soon as I wake up, I pop my back. Last night, when I tried to pop my back, it didn't pop! It has popped horribly every night for the last 8 months! When I woke up this morning, for the first time in 8 months, my back didn't hurt. I'm so happy I could cry! I can't even explain how much relief I feel. I think I'll keep taking the medicine for a while, to help with the stiffness and to keep the inflammation down, but I am so happy! Estoy tan agradecida con mi Padre Celestial, que el me ha dado la fuerza necesaria para seguir adelante. He sentido muy mal por mucho tiempo, pero ahora puedo trabajar sin eso dolor. Puedo enfocarme mas en la obra!:)

Eso es todo.

I love you all so so so much!:)

Love, Hermanita Crandall