Monday, September 29, 2014

Let It Pour!

Hi everyone!

It's officially the rainy season here in Oregon. For now, it's a nice change of pace. It's crazy to think that it'll be like this every day for the next six months or so. 

A lot of really cool things happened this week! First of all, I was soooo happy to be able to watch the General Women's Meeting on Saturday.  It was so incredibly inspiring.  My favorite was President Uchtdorf's talk, specifically the part where he was talking about how God isn't just sitting up in Heaven with all these blessings locked up in a cloud waiting for us to do the right thing before He gives them to us.  He is continually raining down blessings upon us and it is our own actions that "put up the umbrella" to shield us from them.  That is definitely a truth I've learned on my mission.  I used to have the perception that God was just sitting up there, waiting for us to pray the right thing or do the right thing before He was willing to help us but that's not the truth. He is continually present and working in our lives. Also, mom, that one lady looked just like you!  And, I liked the thought that we were both watching the same thing at the same time. I'm excited for General Conference next week. Sister Samuelian came down to Keizer to watch the broadcast.  Afterward she took us out to eat at her and President's favorite place, Panera Bread. They have that Autumn Soup now that I love so much!!

This past week, Hermana Perez and I were leaving the food bank where we volunteer and we were about to pull out of the parking lot. The road we pull out onto is kind of a big road but the food bank entrance is really small and I noticed there was a big truck that was turning left into the food bank so I kind of stayed back a little bit rather than going up to the exit so that they would have enough room to pull in. As this truck was making its turn, it got to the point where it was half in the road and half in the entrance. It was right then that another big truck came down the road.  I guess their brakes didn't work and they rammed right into the other truck, pushing it really far and ALMOST hitting our car.  It stopped about six inches short of hitting us.  It was terrifying.  Hermana Perez and I were really shaken up but what was even more terrifying was realizing how easily it could've been us that got hit. Everyone was okay, mostly because they were both big vehicles, even though the truck hit them fast and hard.  We drive a tiny Toyota Corolla and had that truck not been turning and we had been pulled up all the way to the exit, that other truck would've slammed directly into my side as the driver and done some serious damage.  It was a direct manifestation to me of the protection of the Lord.  I'm so grateful for everyone who prays for me and my safety, each and every one of those prayers is significant. 

I'm not sure if you've heard anything about that new movie the church is putting out, "Meet the Mormons".  I think it's premiering October 10th but they're showing it to every missionary before it comes out so I'll be seeing it this Friday.  I'm super excited!  It sounds like it'll be a great film. Will it be coming to any theaters near PA?  If not, I think they're putting it out on Netflix afterward. We also are going to the temple next Tuesday as a zone!  This week is going to be so exciting, we have the movie on Friday, General Conference Saturday and Sunday, and a temple trip the following Tuesday. And then we have interviews with President soon as well.  Really exciting stuff coming up really soon!

We had a really great Sunday yesterday.  M_________ (newly baptized Juan's granddaughter) came to church so we went with her to Sunday School and Young Women's which was so fun.  I miss Young Women's.  There's only around 10 girls in the branch but they're all awesome and so is the Young Women's President, Hermana Robledo. One of the members of the Bishopric came in and gave a lesson that went perfectly along with the Women's General Meeting broadcast.  He talked about how we are each known and loved by God and that he allows us to go through hard things because He knows we are strong enough to handle it and we will come out on the other side even stronger. It was a perfect message for M______ and I'm so happy she was there to hear it. 

Here's some pictures from the week...

Hermana Perez and I have matching glasses now

 Planner cover I made

Sister Manso gave me these sunflower seeds before I left Forest Grove and they're finally blooming!

 She also gave me this crazy jungle plant called a "maternity plant".  Isn't it cool?  Those little bumpy things on the end are the seeds.  They just fall off and go into the soil.

Note from mom:  So grateful for answered prayers of protection!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Just a normal, uneventful week

Hi everyone!

Another week down! So crazy that this is the last full week of September.  Let me just say that Oregon does not have a real fall season. It makes me super sad. It's been 90 degrees every single day up until today when it suddenly dropped to 65 degrees and cloudy.  So weird.

We had a good week this week but it was kind of uneventful in terms of stories. The oldest member of the S______ family had a birthday this week so we went over to celebrate and the mom taught us how to make HOMEMADE TORTILLAS that are absolutely delicious. It was so exciting. I told her how my mom doesn't know how to make tortillas and that we just buy them from the store and she was SHOCKED.  She said I have to come home and make them for you and show you how.  I promised I would.  She also fed us the most delicious rice and beans and salsa of my life! She told me that, because I now know how to make tortillas, I'm officially a woman and ready to get married. The S_______'s also came to church for the first time this week and they LOVED it, especially the mom.  She just kept saying how beautiful and wonderful it was and every time we would sing a song she would clap afterwards.  It was adorable. 

Also, do you remember that old family joke about how when I first started driving I asked if I could turn left on red? Well, guess what? In Oregon you CAN turn left on red, if you're turning onto a one way street. The roads in Oregon are so weird, almost every one is one way. I guess that wasn't such a ridiculous question after all.  So, we can just go ahead and put that joke to rest. 

I'm really happy to be with Hermana Perez here in Salem.  Her and I get along super SUPER well. I think it's so cool to be with someone from the East Coast.  We definitely bond over things like Wawa, Rita's, and the fact that pineapple isn't supposed to go on pizza.  We teach really well together, too, because neither of us have really overwhelming personalities so we're easily able to take equal loads.  I've talked her into coming to BYU after our missions so we can be roommates. 

My mission has definitely changed a lot of things, not the least of which being my taste buds. I eat shrimp all the time.  For some reason EVERYONE feeds us shrimp.  There's this one dish they make with shrimp and cilantro and tomatoes in this tomato juice with tostadas. I've really come to like it a lot.  I also now add hot sauce to almost everything.  Do you know how good hot sauce is on popcorn? 

I'm sorry this is such a bad email, I'm trying to think of big things that happened that would make good stories to tell you but I can't think of anything.  I think it was just a normal, uneventful week. We talked to new people, taught a lot of lessons, just normal missionary things. 

Love you all!  Love you so much!!!!

Hermana Meise

Monday, September 15, 2014

"It's a privilege, really"

Hi everyone! 

Transfers were this week but Hermana Perez and I are staying here in North Salem.  However, four of the elders and one other Hermana got moved from the ward so we'll be getting a lot of new people in their place.  We have five sets of missionaries in this brand new little ward...pretty crazy!  This week's email will probably be a little short just so I can attach some pictures.

We had a good week.  One of the highlights was being able to teach Juan's granddaughter, M________, twice. Yesterday we taught her the Plan of Salvation and it was a really great lesson because she just got it; like, it just clicked for her. We talked a lot about our purpose here on this earth and perspective.  It sounds like people at school are not very nice to her at all so it was really nice to be able to talk about the big picture and testify that she has a Father in Heaven who loves her and knows everything she is feeling.

We stopped by the S_______ family's (the family that just came from Mexico) apartment one night this week and came in to find everyone grumpy, upset and angry.  We were sitting there and couldn't really figure out what the problem was, why there was all this tension.  Then the littlest one came running in crying and just said, "I'm so hungry, please I want a hamburger!". The mom told him he couldn't because she didn't have money for a hamburger.  We started asking them some questions and came to find out that they had run out of food the night before and none of them had really eaten.  It was absolutely heartbreaking.  We ended up going and getting them some basic groceries and hamburgers to hold them over for a few days.  I always knew that kind of stuff happened, that there were people who didn't have food, but it was different to be there and see this little teeny six-year old boy crying because he was just hungry.
Later that night, we went to visit a member who works crazy night-time hours and then comes home and takes care of her kids and the house during the day.  She basically just doesn't sleep.  We caught her while she was home and helped her fold some laundry she had just finished washing.  It was crazy to, in the space of a couple hours, be with two different mothers who were in an absolute place of desperation.  And it was neat, too, to realize this wasn't something I would've been able to do before I was a missionary.  I couldn't just show up at someone's door and ask to help them with their laundry.  Because we're missionaries, people allow us to help them in a more intimate way than just the average person and it's a privilege, really. 

Okay now for pictures...


Hermana Meise


Monday, September 8, 2014

"By Small and Simple Things..."

Hi everyone!

We had a really good week.  Not because of any big things, but just a lot of little things. 

We met with our friend Maria this week and she is SO awesome.  She's hilarious.  We read Alma 32 with her and talked to her about just starting out with a "desire to believe".  We talked about letting this desire work in her and grow and that eventually it will grow into something strong and powerful.  This is consistent with the Lord's promise that by small and simple things, great things come to pass. 

One of the sets of elders in the ward had a baptism this week. There was such a sweet spirit there.  Juan is the man that was baptized and he is the most humble man.  You could just feel how much the Lord loves him.  At the baptism, we met his granddaughter who is also the sweetest.  She's a senior in high school and was telling us how she loves her grandfather and that he's her best friend.  We found out she lives in our area so we went to visit her on Sunday and are going to start meeting with her this week. 

We taught a Family Home Evening lesson this week and talked to the family about Captain Moroni and the Standard of Liberty.  We teach this lesson fairly frequently for FHE with various families but, every time we teach it, it still impresses me.  We read these scriptures with them from Alma 46:

11 And now it came to pass that when Moroni, who was the chief commander of the armies of the Nephites, had heard of these dissensions, he was angry with Amalickiah. 

12 And it came to pass that he rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole.

13 And he fastened on his head-plate, and his breastplate, and his shields, and girded on his armor about his loins; and he took the pole, which had on the end thereof his rent coat, (and he called it the title of liberty) and he bowed himself to the earth, and he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren, so long as there should a band of Christians remain to possess the land—

This passage of scripture is just so vivid and powerful, I feel like I can see it.  Those are the things they were fighting for, their motivating forces when they felt they could fight no more: their religion, freedom, peace, wives, and children.  Wow.  We then asked the family to, together, make a list of the things that THEIR family fights for, the things they will defend at all cost.  Once they have this list, we invited them to display it in a place they will frequently see and remember their commitment to these values.  It's a really great activity and always makes me ponder the things I am willing to fight for. 

I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is worth fighting for and defending and that when we do so, we are never alone because we have the help of heaven. 

A funny thing happened this week.  We didn't have a dinner appointment one night and we had this coupon for Papa Murphy's.  We went to use it and, before we even knew what had happened, we accidently bought three pizzas so we decided to freeze a bunch. Here's some pictures!  I also included a picture of my blistered, torn up foot. 

I love you!  Have a good week!


Hermana Meise

Note from Mom:  I don't know why my children always have to send pictures of their foot ailments when on missions.  Jeff did the same thing.  I guess it's somewhat of a badge of honor and testament of all the walking and hard work they are putting in. Or, maybe they're just looking for some good 'ole "mom-i-got-a-booboo" sympathy.  Feel free not to look.


Monday, September 1, 2014

"Everlasting Beginnings"

Hi everyone! 

Happy Labor Day! It's hard to believe that it's September. Time has gone by so very fast. 

Everything's good here in Salem.  Remember how I said we really wanted to teach someone in a gang?  Well, looks like we found our person!  We had a ward party here on Saturday celebrating the 20 year anniversary of a Spanish branch opening in Salem. Twenty years ago, they started out here with about 10 members and now, there's a ward and two branches. Amazing, isn't it?  A man spoke who had served as the Branch President for the first 11 years. Can you imagine?  Eleven years!  I'm really grateful to be serving in this ward. One of the members brought their sister who just finished serving a seven year jail sentence.  We talked to her a lot, especially about how the Atonement allows us to have fresh starts.  She really wants that -- a second chance at life.  It really is amazing how the gospel offers us eternal hope, the kind of hope that triumphs over everything. Talking with her reminded me of this quote from Dieter F. Uchtdorf:

"The more we learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more we realize that endings here in mortality are not endings at all.  They are merely interruptions - temporary pauses that one day will seem small compared to the eternal joy awaiting the faithful.

"How grateful I am to my Heavenly Father that in His plan there are no true endings, only everlasting beginnings."

I just love that phrase "everlasting beginnings". The gospel of Jesus Christ offers us the chance to start again and again through repentance and I am so grateful for that. 

We met another family this week who is seriously amazing.  We were walking down the street one day when we passed by a huge blackberry bush and decided to stop and pick some.  By the way, in Oregon there's just berries growing wild EVERYWHERE; it's amazing!   We were picking the berries when the owner of the house pulled up.  She got out of the car and we started apologizing for taking her berries.  She was like "no esta bien esta bien" (loose translation: "not okay, okay") and offered us a chair from her house so that we could pick the berries that were higher up. It turns out that she had just been having a conversation with her daughter the day before about how they really needed to find a church.  We went back and taught her this week and she just kept asking about change and whether the gospel could change her and her family.  We testified to her that it really, truly could. 

When we humbly seek the Lord and allow His gospel to take root in our hearts, it really does change us.  I've been learning more and more that the key to that is humility and faith.  We have to be totally willing to set aside our fears and follow Him in faith.  Otherwise, we can read the scriptures and pray and go to church and be totally unchanged by all of it.  When we humbly approach the Lord, desiring to know and having the faith that we will receive, we will receive. 

I love you! Have a great week! 


Hermana Meise