Tuesday, February 24, 2015

happy things in Harrisonburg

Querida Familia,

     Well I love you all a whole bunch and hope you had a great week! Things have been a little slow here, partially due to the weather and partially due to all of the meetings we had.

     Tuesday for P-day we had Zone P-day which is probably my favorite P-day of the transfer because we play oompa. I'm not even very good at it, but it's fun to play especially when Elders are willing to throw the football to Sisters. I can't wait to make the family play;)

     Odalis kind of fell off the map this week. Church was canceled last week so she couldn't come and we had to push her date back. This week we weren't able to get a hold of her after Tuesday. She canceled both of our appointments on Thursday and Friday, and then didn't come to church on Sunday. (Church wasn't canceled, but we had a Sacrament Meeting combined with the two English wards and no classes.) We're not sure what to do, because she was SO GOLDEN, but we're hoping we can get a hold of her tonight!

     We're slowing things down a bit with Ana. We talked about revelation with her in our last appointment and read from D&C 8 and 9. She seemed to understand pretty well but said that she won't get baptized until she has a desire to do it. She said she has a testimony of Jose Smith, el Libro de Mormon, todo. She said she knows she's supposed to get baptized. We explained that desire doesn't come until we act, but she just won't budge. She didn't come to church this week either, so we might have to drop her if she doesn't come next week. My heart is just so sad :(

     On Wednesday we had Sisters' Meeting! My last one :') The theme was "The Errand of Angels" and all of the trainings were taken from lines of the song "As Sisters in Zion." We were able to attend two classes earlier in the day, and then after lunch (and the clothing swap--I got cute new shoes!) we taught a class for two sessions. 

     We taught "The Blessings of God on our Labors We'll Seek." We talked about the blessings of serving a mission. At the end, we showed the last few minutes (starting at 22:50) of this episode of the District:

     Basically everyone was crying. I would do anything to make my parents proud of me! And most importantly, I would do anything to make my Heavenly Parents proud of me. Sometimes I feel like I'm the prodigal daughter of this family. I have really great sisters and I feel like I wandered off the path the most. But I hope when I come home that Mom and Dad can see the change in me. (That and I hope we have a party and stuff.)

     Anyway, I'm guessing Sister Wilson already put pictures on the facebook page, but the theme of our training was pirates because we talked about seeking blessings, so you might see a picture of us with eye patches:) We also did three-legged races so you might see some of that too:)

     President Wilson's final remarks were really inspiring. I think I could listen to him talk all day because he always has great insights. He shared a quote that says, "If you ever feel like a little pebble on the beach, try being a little boulder." So great:) He talked about this in relation to fulfilling our dreams and the promises in our patriarchal blessings. Sometimes we have to a be a little bolder! 

     Also they have a "Which 'Wich" in Short Pump so that's what we got after the meeting. Yummmm:) ........jealous?;)

     Thursday and Friday were the coldest days of my mission history. This whole week it's been an icy 8 to 15 degrees out, in the negatives with windchill. I got cold-burned or something on my face because my skin has been really pinky and dry. Yay.

     We found a new investigator named Ligia. She is almost as shy as Hermana Quinones;) She's really sincere about wanting to know if she should get baptized. She asked Heavenly Father to show her a sign. I didn't even feel the need to tell her not to ask for a sign because I sincerely believe God will give it to her because of how pure her heart is:)

     Hermana McRae and I were also chatting about how grateful we are that we're not YSA missionaries because teaching our peers would be really weird. And then we found a new investigator named Maribel who's 24;) She doesn't speak a lot of English and is from la Republica Dominicana. She has her own cute little apartment and works at one of the chicken factories here. She's pretty lonely and is open to coming to church. It's actually really fun teaching her because we can connect with her really well! She's basically the same age as Odalis, except not married with three kids, so it feels like I'm teaching a good friend:)

     Saturday it just snowed and snowed and snowed. Cars were obviously grounded and we live about a mile or so outside of our area, so we couldn't get there very easily. Hermana McRae and I had been asked to speak at church so we prepared talks (then church was canceled) and planned Odalis's baptism and made cookies and cleaned. Finally we ventured out to deliver the cookies. It wasn't as cold, but the snow was pretty deep on the sidewalks.

     We took cookies to the Jackson family. (They live a little under a mile away so we could walk there.) I haven't written about them yet, but I LOVE the Jackson family. Emma is 18, a senior, and she comes out with us at least once a week. She doesn't speak Spanish, but it's good experience for her and we translate for her. She's just really sweet and I love her a whole lot:) I hope she chooses to go on a mission! Sister Jackson makes and delivers food to us every week--usually a casserole or soup. Brother Jackson also took us to a lesson this past week when it was snowing and our cars were grounded. They are a stellar family:) We stopped by to drop off cookies and they let us in and told us stories about how they met. Really funny stuff:)

     Sunday, it was up to 45 degrees out. The snow was just icky and melty. We went out in skirts and boots (no coats necessary) and helped shovel out our parking lot so we could get to church. We also shoveled a less active's drive way so she could get to church...and she came!:)

     There was a super important baptism in Accokeek that I wanted to make it to on Sunday night. The Senior couple was unavailable, and I hadn't really searched for rides because the weather was so iffy on Saturday. But Sunday morning we were determined to find a ride. We made lots of calls and chatted with some people at church. Hermano Larsen was willing to take us, but his wife wasn't feeling up to it and we couldn't find another woman to go with us. It was 2:45 and we definitely weren't going to have time to make it to the 5:00 baptism. (Stafford is about 2.5 hours.) We were in the church parking lot, about to leave, when Hermano Larsen pulled up with his wife. She had decided to come! We jumped in the car and were on our way! He basically speeded the entire way. We were 10 minutes late, but arrived just in time for the opening song.

     I'm so happy to announce that Steve and Sheila were baptized!!!! I'm not sure if you remember them, but Sister Olsen and I taught Sheila basically the entire time I was in Accokeek. She used to be a member, but left the church at the insistence of her former husband. Now, as an older woman, she wanted to be rebaptized. Steve wasn't interested at first, but over time began to warm up to us and started receiving the lessons and coming to church. They were married last week on Valentine's Day and finally got baptized yesterday! It was truly one of the sweetest moments of my whole mission to see them both baptized. And to make it even better, Brother Fisher (who was baptized in September) baptized Steve! 

     They were all so happy to see me and Brother Houtz (the Ward Mission Leader) asked me to share my testimony at the end. I made Steve cry;) Getting there was a huge miracle! After the service, Hermano Larsen said that he knew that God wanted me at that baptism:) I just feel so blessed that I was able to be there and I'm so grateful for Hermano and Sister Larsen!!!

     Attached are pictures! Me, Sheila and Steve, Brother Houtz, and Emily Houtz. I love all these people so much. There is definitely something special about the Accokeek Ward and I'm SO grateful that God called me on an English speaking mission so that I could serve there.

Well that's all for this week, mis queridos:)

Con amor,  Hermanita Crandall

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hielo en Harrisonburg

Querida Familia,

     Well...Sometimes it's really hard to email home. I think to myself, "I could spend 30 minutes writing a quality email to Mom, or I could look at pictures of Millie." It's a real lucha every week.

     I also am short on time this week because libraries are closed for "inclement weather" and so all of the missionaries have to email here at the Family History Center. But I will do my best;)

     On Tuesday we did a blitz in the Broadway area, which is basically the middle of nowhere. I went with Sister Gale. From a map, they had determined that we should knock "War Branch St." The GPS had a hard time getting us there, but we finally arrived. There was literally one giant farm house on the street in the middle of giant fields of nothing. We knocked a small trailer/tenant on the property. Jehovah's Witnesses. They were super friendly, but less than interested and said that all of their neighbors are Mennonites. 

     On our way there, we had passed through a little town (size of Chester, UT) named Hinton. We went and knocked there instead and found a few potentials. We were also doing an exchange, and Sister Gale joined me in Harrisonburg. We stopped at home for lunch after knocking and decided to check the map. Apparently we knocked on the wrong side of the street...we were right on the border of the 1st and 2nd Wards and didn't know! So we found some potentials for the 2nd Ward Elders;)

     The exchange was really great! Sister Gale got surprise fed and everything! That evening, Elder and Sister Edstrom (Senior Couple) came with us to a few appointments. We visited Odalis. She understands English pretty well, but I had to translate a few things. It was really powerful when the Edstroms talked about eternal families! They have a lot more experience than me;) We also took them knocking in a trailer park. They waited in the car while we knocked a bit and found a lesson. It was a really great night and afterwards they took us to their apartment for cake and ice cream:) I love having a senior couple!!!

     Thursday was Zone Workshops with only our Zone. President and Sister Wilson come with the APs. They each give short trainings on teaching and then we do role plays. One of them films our role play on an iPad or on their phone and then we get to watch ourselves teach! At first it feels really weird and unnatural, but they're actually very beneficial. 

     Elder Thomas (AP) gave a great training about teaching the Restoration of the Gospel. Sometimes we focus so much on the Restoration, that we don't even talk about what was restored--the Gospel of Jesus Christ! We did a role play teaching the Restoration while talking about the Gospel of Jesus Christ in every point. God loves us so He gave us the Gospel--faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. He gave us families so that we could help each other live this Gospel. Prophets have authority to teach the Gospel and administer the ordinances of the Gospel. When people decline in their faith, or don't want to repent, they reject the prophets. Jesus Christ came to teach His Gospel and to perform the atonement--which makes the Gospel possible. His Apostles continued to teach the Gospel after the ascension of Jesus Christ until they were likewise rejected. Over many years of apostasy, the true Gospel of Jesus Christ was distorted. Jose Smith wanted to know what was the true Gospel. Through him, God restored the knowledge of the Gospel as well as the authority to perform its ordinances. The Book of Mormon clearly teaches us the Gospel. Millie, remember this. Hermana McRae and I have tried to teach the Restoration by focusing more on the Gospel and we've seen a huge difference! It's much easier to invite people to be baptized if we've been talking about baptism the entire lesson. The Spirit is a lot stronger. Go look in PMG, Chapter 3, Lesson 1, and highlight how many times it refers to the Gospel of Jesus Christ! THAT is our central message:)

     We also did a role play where we taught a lesson and we could only say one line at a time, switching off with our companion. The Franklin WV Elders did Tithing and some of the stuff they said was super funny!

     I've been really sick the past few days. (Like upset stomach, wanting to throw up, etc.) It started Friday and I'm just starting to get over it. I really think it's just from stress. I'm worried about starting my last transfer, about Millie leaving soon, trying to get Odalis and Ana baptized, etc. I'm really grateful for a patient companion who tells me to stop worrying about it;) I've been eating basically only saltines for the past three days, besides being surprise fed some sopa con arroz. My appetite is wayyy down and just going shopping and looking at food today made me feel icky. Hopefully I'll feel better soon. 

     It's also been freezing cold here. Church was canceled on Sunday because of the cold. It's been about 15 degrees, but 0 or -10 with windchill. (School is also canceled, which is ridiculous if you ask me;) It snowed a ton yesterday so cars were grounded at around 7 pm. We got a member to take us out last night and then spent the rest of the evening shoveling our snow and our neighbors' snow. We only got about 4-6 inches, but VA just doesn't know how to plow snow like UT does. 

Hermana McRae & Hermana Crandall
     We're disappointed that church was canceled because now we have to change Odalis's baptismal date. 

     Oh, and on Valentine's Day we made cookies with Ana to deliver to people. She's doing pretty well and is already in Mosiah 17!

     Also. I had a realization this past week that God wants us to do family history so that we learn to love our ancestors more! Why would we want to be with our family forever in the Celestial Kingdom if we didn't truly love them? My setting apart blessing talks about how my family will feel the Spirit of Elijah while I serve my mission. Looks like the genealogy bug bit Hapa this past week;) Only 7 weeks left for Lindsay and Rob to catch on...

Okay that's all for this week:) I love you all lots!

Monday, February 9, 2015

happy things from Harrisonburg

Querida Familia,

     I'm sorry that I'm about to send another shortie...but this computer is super slow! I've already had to restart it twice. But I hope you all know that I love you so much!:)

     Ana did NOT get baptized last week like we had hoped. She's now received all of the lessons and can get baptized pretty much any day she decides to. She's keeping all of her commitments and we feel like we've done all that we can do to help her. We'll keep visiting her and getting her to church, and hopefully over time her testimony will turn into conversion!

     Her son Fabian also loves pizza, so we stopped by with a pizza on Friday and he was super happy. Ana  feeds us almost every time we go over now, so we wanted to pay-it-forward. We just don't have the time or means to cook as amazingly as she does;)

     We started teaching another woman from Honduras named Odalis. She's 25 and has three cute kids! She's also neighbors with her sister and niece, Erika and Celenia. We were able to meet them this week and all three came to church! Odalis's husband came too. And Erika also has 3 kids. Altogether they were 10 people! They took up an entire bench! Branch attendance basically doubled yesterday:) 

     Last night we had a kind of scary experience. We were with a member and we entered a home to teach a family. The husband was outside. He barged into the home and asked us which God we worship. He then said that he didn't like us and demanded that we leave his home. His wife looked so embarrassed. She explained that he was drunk and not to listen to him. It was probably one of the scariest experiences I've had my whole mission. I've had people yell at me and whatnot, but never while inside of their home. The man went outside again and the room felt really empty. We expressed our love for the woman and her children, and I could tangibly feel the Spirit come back into the room. It was an interesting experience in feeling the Spirit flee and return. I know we were protected from anything worse happening.

     We did an exchange with the YSA Sisters on Tuesday and I got to go to their area with Sister Elliott! YSA work is SO DIFFERENT. We went on JMU (James Madison U) for Institute and then afterwards we walked around and contacted people. I was eating it up:) We got told no a lot, but it was really fun to talk to everyone. 

     So this is a little story about "tagging"--which is something we as missionaries do:) We went tracting later in a student housing complex. We parked and then were praying in the car. When we finished the prayer, we both looked up and the Zone Leaders were parked next to us, like three inches away. They rolled down their window, stuck a sticky note to our window (that said "tag") and then drove away. It was pretty funny:) Normally we just tag missionary cars that we see parked, but they caught us praying.

     We started a Branch Choir on Sunday. A few members showed up:) We're working on "Oh Creaciones del Senor" which is "All Creatures of our God and King." We have Branch Conference coming up in March, so we're hoping to be able to sing it there. Hermana McRae is a great singer, so she helped direct the music. 

     I'm down to two months left in the mission, which doesn't even feel real. Next transfer is my last, and I'm hoping and praying that I can stay here in Harrisonburg. It will depend on whether or not they close anymore Sisters areas in the Zone.

That's pretty much all for this week. I love you all so much! 

Con mucho amor, Hermanita Crandall

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

...a hurried message from Harrisonburg :)

Querida Familia,

     I'm super sorry, Mom....but I only have like 15 minutes left and I still have to write President Wilson...I just had so many other things to address today;) 

     That and no one told me the super bowl score so I'm just a little bitter;) a member texted us updates throughout the night. Seahawks were up, and then the last thing he said was that the Pats won. So I don't really know what all happened in between;)

*We had a great and BUSY week!

     Wednesday was MLC, which was fun. And then on Friday we had our Zone Meeting. I gave a training on our purpose as missionaries and how we can know that we're fulfilling it. I focused on the story of the Tree of Life from Lehi's dream. It's one of my favorites. 

*We saw a lot of miracles!

     Ana still won't accept a date! We made the baptismal calendar, she quit coffee, she's been to church multiple times, has attended two baptisms, she's read through Jacob, everything. We're really pushing for this weekend, the 7th. We've already planned the baptism and are going to make invites. We've scheduled the building and are planning on moving forward. If by that day she still won't do it, then we'll know that we've done everything we can! The Branch Council kind of disapproved of it...but we've prayed and fasted and feel like this is the right thing to do. If it happens last minute, that's better than not happening at all! We're just trying to act in faith:)

     We found a new investigator, Odalis. We tracted into her and she almost accepted a date in the first lesson! She read the folleto, and in the second lesson, accepted a date. She said it answered all of her questions about which church is the true church!:) She's excited about reading the Book of Mormon:) She's a young mom with three kids, and we're hoping her husband will also be on board with it.

     We had a member with us last night, Hermana Bety. Our lesson fell through and so we drove to a different complejo to try a different investigator family. When we arrived, she said she had a friend who lived there. We decided to visit her friend instead! We were able to visit with her, Fanny, and her husband, Jose. They were really sweet and have a lot of potential!

Okay that's all for now.

Love you lots:)

Hermanita Crandall

PS pray for Ana :)