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... ;)
So much happened this week and I wrote a list so that I could remember it all and then I lost the list. I will do what I can:)
First and foremost, I almost got attacked by a mangy dog in that one trailer park I wrote about last week. Hermana McRae and I were knocking doors and we got into a lesson. After we left the lesson, this little dog started barking at and bothering my companion. This dog has likely never had a bath and is potentially feral. I saw Hispanic lady standing outside a few trailers down and started to head that direction. I told Hermana McRae to kick at the dog and he would run away. She's a cat person so I think she might have been a little scared. So I stepped in the way and started kicking at the dog to get him to leave. I was also walking towards the lady and the dog kept following me. He wasn't scared of me! I kicked some dirt and rocks in his face and he kept jumping at my leg. I didn't think it was that big of a deal until Hermana McRae asked what I was doing. Then I realized that the dog was truly trying to bite me and he was probably going to draw blood because my legs were bare. It was at that moment that I got pretty scared. Then out of nowhere, the Hispanic lady I was trying to contact came running at the dog with a giant stick! The dog went running and crying down the street! Then she threw some little pebbles at him, haha:) The lady was sooo cute! She may have been shorter than Clarissa Miller. Her name is Maria and she's from Mexico, but she speaks practically no Spanish, just dialect. We thanked her and gave her a picture of Jesus:)
Okay now I can write about all the other stuff that happened. I just had to make sure you all knew that I got attacked by a mangy, little perrito in a trailer park.
On Monday we had Sisters' P-day which was fun and I will hopefully be sending pictures from Hermana McRae's camera! We had a birthday celebration to celebrate all of our birthdays!
Tuesday was when the dog attacked me. And we also had interviews with President Wilson! We mostly talked about me finishing my mission and what I still hope to accomplish before going home. Afterwards we went with Him and Sister Wilson to eat dinner at the super expensive steak house again. It was a lot less awkward with Sister Wilson;) It was fun because their daughter is serving in San Diego and she has her P-days on Tuesdays. They received her email while we were eating and we got to hear about how she's doing.
On Wednesday we had a crazy miracle! So we meet these two sisters, Marixa and Sonia, from Olancho (Honduras) and start to teach them. Sonia recently moved here two weeks ago from Alexandria and said that she was receiving the Hermanas over there! And that she never got to say goodbye to them before leaving! So I bet those Hermanas are mourning over her loss and they have no idea that we found her here! I guess we'll find out all of that stuff when our Savior comes again. Anyway, at the end of the lesson, we invited them to come to church. We told them where it was, and they said that their sister-in-law Ana was attending that church. That's Ana our investigator! We're hoping that if we can get her in-laws to progress that Ana will have a greater desire to get baptized!
It was also a miracle because Marixa lives in Massanetta Springs, a little Presbyterian community/town south of Harrisonburg. Hermana McRae and I went there once because from the map it looked like there was a trailer park there. (Long thin streets stacked on top of each other.) We drove around a bit and it seemed like a very affluent area so we never returned. It ends up that she lives on one of the streets that we had passed! We had felt prompted to go and check, and there was a Hispanic living there! We're hoping we can find more!
Oh, back to Tuesday. We met with the Cedeno family and taught Alejandro about the Plan of Salvation. It was really great and he accepted the date April 5th! He's going to get baptized at 10 before Conference! (Conference starts at 12 and 4 here for EST.) He's technically a child-of-record baptism because his mom is a member and he's 8, but they haven't been active for years and their records are still in Puerto Rico. They came to church again on Sunday and stayed all 3 hours and really enjoyed it:) estoy muy contenta!
Speaking of child-of-record baptisms, there's a recently returning family and their son Denis was baptized on Saturday. We went by Friday to make sure everything was ready and to see if they needed any help. They fed us this shrimp soup stuff with a fish tail in it. I don't really like seafood, but I can eat it if I need to. It was just a little icky having to pull of the eyes, the skin, the antennae and all.
Anyway, so this is a pretty dramatic story. (But not as scary as the dog story, so you can sit down Mom.) We asked if they needed help with decorations or set up, and they said that the RS President was in charge of all the decorations and set up and take down and that she had promised them that she'd take care of it. We asked them what they were expecting, and they said balloons on the walls, and helium balloons on the tables. (It was also the kid's birthday party.) And of course, lots of food.
So afterwards we called the RS President to make sure she was in on all of this and when she wanted us to arrive. We planned to be there two hours before to fill the font and set up. We asked her about the balloons and she said that the RS couldn't afford them so she wasn't going to get them. Now, I know what you're thinking...not a big deal. But in the Hispanic world, this is a HUGE DEAL. If the Hermana has an expectation, especially for a party, and the expectation is not met, it is just NOT GOOD. This Hermana in particular hasn't always like Hermanas and we were doing everything we could to win back our reputation. We couldn't just call her back and tell her no balloons. She would have been so angry.
So I decided that I would just buy the balloons. The RS President said she had purchased balloons for an activity a few weeks ago and spent over $40 on 15 balloons. We were going to have 8 tables, so for 3/table would be 24 balloons, so I was looking at spending $60 or $70 for balloons.
This is going to sound super dumb...but we have this unofficial tradition among the Sisters in the VRM called the "going home outfit." The week or two before you go home, you get to go to the mall and buy yourself something nice as a reward for serving an awesome mission. All the Sisters in the Zone that went home last transfer did it. Hermana Penaloza did it, Sister Nelson, Sister Walker, etc. It's a thing. Anyway, Mom said she's put a little bit of money on my account and I was hoping to buy a new sweater or blouse to wear home. I wasn't going to go crazy, but I did want something new. Especially since I've been really good and haven't purchased new clothes since arriving in Harrisonburg. But I knew that buying these balloons would mean no "going home outfit."
I was praying Friday night for more patience with these Hermanas. And I told Heavenly Father that I'm not trying to be vain, I just want a nice new shirt to wear home. And so I asked him to prepare a way for me to buy something new as well as buy the balloons.
We went to Walmart Saturday morning and....they only cost $.50 per balloon!!! :D :D :D
I don't know where the RS President spent $40+ on 15 balloons, but I got 27 for under $15! I felt so blessed for being willing to sacrifice, and then I didn't even have to sacrifice! I know it was something silly and simple, but I know that Heavenly Father is so desirous for us to be happy! Especially on our missions!
We showed up two hours early and decorated and everything. We didn't exceed expectations, but we did meet them. Which was a much better alternative to disappointment;) And the baptism was nice, the food was delicious, and there was a pinata. Watching kids hit pinatas is like my new favorite hobby.
*Okay other stuff...
We met this sweet Puertoriquena named America. She's a widow and lives on her own. We visited her a few times, but her son who's from another religion convinced her to not get baptized. On Saturday she broke the news to us but was very sweet about it. We offered to do some service for her and helped her do a few cleaning projects and then she fed us some really delicious food. Two of her grandsons were there too and one of them is deaf. I practiced my sign language (I only know the alphabet, haha) and that was neat. Lindsay would have been so proud:) It was sad that she doesn't want to learn more, but she's very old and confused a lot and we're not really sure how accountable she is.
Ana came to the baptism, but couldn't come to church because she has family in town. She's sad that I'm leaving, but I don't know if that will convince her to get baptized;)
Well today is an exciting day because Dad just emailed me and said that the other Sister Crandall is on a plane to Japan:) I hope her layover is in Richmond--just so we can say we've been in the same state for an hour--but, I'm guessing she'll be crossing the world going the other direction. I love my little sister and know that the Japanese people are so blessed to have her! :')
*We had a great week full of exchanges and lots of knocking!
We did an exchange with one of the sets of Hermanas and I got to go with Hermana Wilson to her area. We spent pretty much the whole day in the same trailer park. I've learned the importance of making every conversation worthwhile, whether at the door or on the street. We focused on using inspired questions to help people feel the Spirit. We only knocked about 10 doors the whole day, but had 3 lessons and found a few referrals for the English missionaries. Also Hermana Wilson is a really great missionary and I love her a whole lot now:) I love doing exchanges and getting to know the Sisters better.
Sister Greer, the one from Wyoming, also came and worked with me in my area on Friday. Sometimes I get nervous doing exchanges in my area because I'm worried that every thing will fall through...but we had some really great lessons and even got surprise fed at two homes! Sister Greer goes home with me and it was really nice to chat with her about it. I just have a lot of feelings;) She's moving to Provo this summer and will most likely be at BYU next fall, so I'm excited about that! She said we're going to do Insanity this summer so we'll see how that goes.
Anyway, I'm really excited to see you all again, but it just feels so weird that this thing one day comes to an end. I'll be tracting one night and the next day I'll be on a plane going home. I got to spend two weeks in the MTC and then 12 weeks with a trainer, but there's nothing to prepare me for this next step! I'm still working really hard and am exactly obedient, but it is harder to concentrate. Especially after P-days, when I feel like I'm bombarded with reminders that my time is coming to an end. I have to worry about classes and an apartment and a job and my homecoming and suddenly people want to write me again because they want to remind me that I have to spend time with them when I get home and I can't just hide in my room and read the scriptures all day. P-days are kind of the worst. Then I remember I only have like 3 left... :( It's pretty overwhelming. So that's kind of how I feel. Oh, and I'm super excited to go to the temple :) I'm going on April 2nd.
*Sorry, back to my week.
Hermana McRae and I met this lady named Maria like a month or two ago who wasn't interested. She said she didn't understand a lot of Spanish because her first language is a dialect language of Mexico. We never went back, but we saw her outside on Saturday and so we decided to talk to her again. She didn't remember us, but when we showed her the picture of Jesus that we have on our pass-along cards, she recognized it. She let us in, which was weird because the first time she wasn't interested at all. We tried to teach her but realized that she didn't understand most of what we were saying. I asked her how she knew that God loved her, and she said, "Porque Jesucristo mataste." Which means (not even with correct grammar), "Because Jesus Christ you killed." Which she said looking directly at me! She also kept calling her son "she," and seemed confused by everything we said. It was really hard to communicate with her when Spanish is both of our second language. But she was super nice and wants us to go back! I'm not sure how far we'll get, but maybe we can do some service for her.
While Hermana McRae was on exchanges with Hermana Thompson, they found a new trailer park!!!!!!! We asked a random lady for referrals, and she said that she knew a lot of Hispanics lived on Ferguson. It wasn't on our map, but we asked the Elders. They said someone had drawn it in on their map and that it was in our area! So the Hermanas went there and found it and I got to go on Saturday. It was seriously a huge miracle!!! We drove through the middle of no where for a couple miles. Then suddenly we come around this bend and....hallelujah we were in a trailer park! There are about 5 rows of 15 trailers each! Almost all Hispanic! We have no former records for this area, and no evidence of missionary work being done there for the past year.
This is the kind of trailer park that you would find in Chester, UT. You know--that little town we hold our breath in when we drive to Manti through the Nephi canyon. There were mangy, old dogs (probably wild) that have never had baths running through the park. There were some goats, a make shift soccer field, and lots of Christmas lights. I was in heaven. We knocked a bit and found some cool people and I am just so content to have been able to find this cute little park :)
Yesterday, Sunday, was wonderful because Ana and Fabian came to church as well as the part member family we've been working with! Alejandro is the unbaptized kid, and he seemed to like it. The dad, who's also a non-member, loved sacrament meeting! And he asked for a Book of Mormon in Spanish! The mom, who's been less-active for years, was crying a lot and really enjoyed it. They said that they already have plans to come for the next two weeks to make sure that Alejandro can get baptized before I go home. I'm just so happy and that was a HUGE answer to my prayers! I'm hoping that the dad will also want to be baptized:)
Anyway...love you all a lot! And I miss you. Especially you, Millie. I hope everyone has a great week!:)
I am just so stoked to finally hear from Crandall Shimai:) What a cute little missionary she is! I am so proud :') and I will miss the days of us watching the district together and me taking naps on her bed before she got home from school. Hopefully the district 3 will be out by August 2016!;)
ALSO...so I guess Dad was in the emergency room with kidney stones. Sounds like you all had a nice week. I hope you're feeling better. I'll miss my Hapa mail <3
*Hermana McRae and I likewise had a pretty eventful week.
We spent alllll day Tuesday knocking. We found this cute little pocket of Hispanics where half of the street is student housing and the other half is Hispanic. We haven't taught anyone there yet, but we met some neat people.
MLC - Mission Leadership Council
On Wednesday we made the trip to Richmond for MLC! It was really great and we focused on having faith, having the faith to baptize, and having the faith to endure to the end. I also made it pretty far in our lightning game during lunch, which never happens. (If you don't know what lightning is, ask Hapa. I'm pretty sure he played left bench on the basketball team and might be familiar with it;)
We spent the night in the mission home because we had another meeting, just for the Sister Training Leaders, on Thursday. We got to do an exchange with the Hermanas in Midlothian which was really fun because I never got to serve there. President Wilson is super funny because he made us stay up until 10:30 singing songs and so we didn't get to bed until after 11. And then we got up at 5:30 to play oompa at the church. By the time we started the meeting at 9:30, we were exhausted! Some Sisters even fell asleep;)
Sister Training Meeting
After the meeting there was a big controversy because of a snow storm that was coming in. It rained a lot, then got colder and snowed on top of a sheet of ice. We called our Zone Leaders at around noon and they said cars were grounded in Harrisonburg and that there was already a foot of snow. SO...we were obligated to spend another night in the mission home;) It was fun, but it was also super hard to be out of our area for 2 whole days. We had to cancel some appointments. We did weekly planning in the mission home and then did exchanges with the Chesterfield Hermanas in the evening. There were 9 sisters that had to stay an extra night for the snow storm -- us, Charlottesville, Stafford, and Woodbridge.
We got up the next morning and left right after 7 so we could make it on time to Zone Meeting at 10:30 on Friday. (It took extra long because we had to drop off the trio in Charlottesville.) We arrived in Harrisonburg right on time, but the Zone Leaders ended up canceling it and moving it to Saturday so that the Franklin (WV) Elders could make it. During lunch on Friday, I was so worn out that I just went up stairs and napped the entire hour.
But now we're back on it and things are going really well:)
I gave a training at Zone Meeting about involving the youth in missionary work! I shared the "Embark" video which is really great and makes me cry a whole bunch. You can find it on the front page of youth.lds.org. Just click on the youth theme resources.
We had a RS Society activity on Saturday for the birthday celebration or something like that. Ana came! The Stake RS President came and sat at our table and we translated a conversation between her and Ana. It made me miss my favorite Stake RS President in Lehi <3 love you Mommy. Hermana McRae and I were super pleased because Ana seemed to have a great time! We played a pictionary/charades game. The best one was Hermana Lizet acting out Michael Jackson, haha:)
Ana came to church on Sunday, again, and seemed to especially enjoy it as well! She might not have a baptismal date (STILL) but she is really consistent about coming! And whenever she can't make it, all of the members ask where she is. All of the new Hermanas in the branch thought she was a member!
We also have a wonderful new investigator named Geraldine. She speaks English, but would be a great addition to the branch. She's a young, single mom and has never been very religious. When we taught her the restauracion, it was so powerful! We had Mikelle with us, who's a recently returned Sister from Brazil. After we explained the first vision, Geraldine asked us to share our testimonies. I've never had an investigator do that!!! She's really open to being baptized and we're hoping she'll do it before the end of this transfer.
We started teaching the boy from the part member family I wrote about last week, Alejandro. He is super cute! His mom, even though she's been less active for years, asked us to sing "Tal Como un Fuego," which is "The Spirit of God." She still knew all of the words! Then she said that Alejandro had watched the restoration movie and just cried and cried because he felt the Spirit so strongly. We asked him what he thought, and he said that he knows that if we want more faith, we can pray and God will give it to us. The mom was so great about sharing her testimony of modern day prophets and apostles. And then she fed us Puerto Rican food:) I just love this family so much.
I know so powerfully that this is the true church of Jesus Christ! I feel so honored to be a missionary and to have the opportunity to share my testimony with everyone! And I'm so pleased that my little sister is doing the same thing:) I love you all and hope you have a great week!