Monday, April 21, 2014

Sweet Sacrifice and Sister Who?

Hi everyone! 

This week we had more opportunities to teach Ishmael's kids. I LOVE those kids. They are so incredibly sweet and they love learning about the gospel. We usually have to end up saying three opening and closing prayers because all of them love saying prayers so much. We taught them a lesson about how God has a body of flesh and bone and, just like we look like our earthly parents, we look like our Heavenly Father as well. The kids just grasp and understand things so quickly and Ishmael and his wife, Esmeralda, are so grateful that their kids are learning more about God and Jesus Christ. 

We have a baptism this coming Saturday! Her name is Gloria and she's approximately 70 years old. She's been learning about the church for about six months and finally decided she was sure. She's totally paralyzed on one side so, for her, getting over the fear of physically going down into the water and coming back up was a huge barrier. A couple of weeks ago, we had been planning for a lesson and decided to ask her to pray about April 26th; specifically, to be baptized on April 26th. During the lesson, Hermana Villalobos started to ask her but chickened out at the last second and asked her to pray about April, in general, as the month for her to get baptized. After she said that Gloria said, "Yeah, April is usually the month I make big decisions." And we were like "Oh really?".  She went on to tell us how APRIL 26TH was her deceased husband's birthday and the day that she quit smoking many years ago. Hermana Villalobos and I just gave each other a look like "Are you kidding me?"  We explained to her what had happened and how that was the specific day we had in mind, too.  I'm really excited for her! 

There are seriously so many nice people here.  The English ward's and the Spanish branch's members are just so incredibly nice. I would be just fine if I stayed here my whole mission. The one thing I've realized from meeting many new people all the time is that our last name is so stinking hard for people to say, English and Spanish alike. In the English ward, there are very few people who call me by name; the majority just call me "Sister Philly" or even better "Sister Philly Cheesesteak". That nickname started a little bit in the MTC but surfaced even stronger once I got here. The Hispanic people use a variety of different names. Carlos actually calls me "Sister Mouse" but that's not so much a nickname as just what he thinks is the right way to say my name. I actually tell people to say "Hermana Maize" (literally "Sister Corn") because it's the closest thing. But using that sometimes earns me the nickname "Hermana Tortilla" (Get it?  Corn tortillas?) 

The branch I'm in right now is super tiny, 30 people max. A lot of those people are part of the Canales family: the oldest, Brother Canales (who is actually the Branch President), all his grown children and their families.  But since the branch is so tiny, we're wearing a lot of hats right now as missionaries, Gospel Essentials teachers, Primary teachers, leading the Branch FHE (Family Home Evening), planning parties, etc.  It's a little crazy to be honest, especially because most of the time they ask last minute.  We found out we were teaching in Primary when they announced it at the end of Sacrament Meeting yesterday.  I know it's hard to discern tone in emails so I'll just clarify and say I do not mean this to sound like I'm annoyed because I'm not.  It's a really cool experience to serve in such a small branch and I'm happy to serve in whatever capacity they need. There's a Spanish ward in Hillsboro and I guess some of the people who live in the boundaries of the branch are having a hard time leaving the ward. I think once those people start coming we should be up to around 50 or 60 in attendance. 

Yesterday, we had Easter with the Alletto family and it was really good. Brother Alletto is our Ward Mission Leader and they have this little baby who is literally the cutest thing. He's around eight months old so he reminds me a lot of Hudson.  Sister Alletto made this cake that was really cool.

Another thing we did this week was go sing at a nursing home. One of the less active members of the branch works there and so we figured it would be a good opportunity to serve and also stay in contact with her. She was really grateful we came. And the residents are so cool! It's a dementia home so everyone has memory issues but so many of them lived these amazing lives. The person who runs the home was telling us that one of the residents, Jane, had a really interesting part in World War II. When she was a little girl, they lived at the beach and it was her job to walk up and down the beach and report anything that could be a bomb. She was sent by herself because they knew no one would suspect or harm a little girl walking on the beach by herself. Crazy, right?

Alright, well, we're off to teach a lesson! Talk to you via email next week and on Skype SO SOON!



Note from mom:  Still no pictures (sigh).  She's still trying to figure out how to sync the Wi-Fi on her camera with her Ipad.   We found out about a "six degrees of separation" occurrence for her recently.  The group that came into her mission at the same time as her included a sister who was born in our area and whose family attended our current ward, leaving before we moved here.  The Kinneards, for those of you D-town old-timers.  We have many mutual friends in common.  Such a small world sometimes!  We are excited to Skype with Hayley on Mother's Day.

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