Monday, November 24, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hi everyone!

I can't believe it's already THANKSGIVING! That is the craziest thing. Then Christmas and New Year's and, man, time is just going so fast. I hit my nine month mark this week. So crazy. (BTW mom, thanks for the "hump day" letter! You timed it perfectly, I got it EXACTLY on my hump day!)  For Thanksgiving, we'll be with the Hernandez Family, they're really sweet. I probably won't have a traditional Thanksgiving dinner but I'm sure it'll be super good. 

I forgot to mention in my letter last week that two Sundays ago we had the Primary program in the church. It was adorable. They actually have about 30 kids in the Primary here which is really pretty good considering the size of the ward. The Stake Primary Presidency was there and I was asked to translate for them. It was my first time ever translating and it was SO HARD. It was hard because a lot of times I'd just want to translate the words directly but pretty often, that doesn't end up being grammatically correct in English. Plus, you have to listen to what the person is saying as you're translating what they just said a second ago. So tricky. But I was grateful to be able to try it out because it's a useful skill. Sometimes for service, we go with investigators to appointments with doctors or lawyers and interpret.  That's much easier because they pause and wait for you to interpret. So crazy though. 

Sharing the dinner message with the bishop last week actually went super well! After we talked a little bit about the importance of vision, he told us that he'd actually had the same thoughts lately, that the ward needs some kind of direction if it's ever going to go anywhere. We were able to present to him our vision that we had as missionaries and he really liked it. We had dinner with him again last night and he was talking about how he really wants to have the members and the missionaries working more closely and really the members taking a lot more responsibility in the work of salvation here in their ward. This is EXACTLY the shift that President Samuelian has been talking about for months and we've been trying so hard to make it happen here. Hopefully, now that we're all kind of on the same page, we'll be able to move forward and actually make it happen. 

We found this new family to teach that we're super excited about. We had our first lesson with them last night and it was just amazing. We found them because the husband, Javier, is friends with one of our investigators and he was over there once when we went over to teach him. We've been trying to set something up for weeks but he would always cancel at this last minute. We had his address so we just decided to go over yesterday because we had some spare time. We were able to sit down and have a really nice lesson with him, his wife, and his wife's brother. His wife, Adriana, is seriously so sweet. She was talking a lot about her kids and her family and how all she wants is a better quality of life for them and how she knows that comes through Christ. We shared with her The Family: A Proclamation to the World and talked about how happy families are the whole purpose of the gospel. They had a lot of really great questions and genuinely want to change in whatever way they have to in order to follow God's path and help their family. We are so excited. They are so golden. 

Hermana Cardon and I are getting along super well; she is so sweet. We're both the kind of people to just laugh it off when something goes wrong so it's really nice. This week, we knocked on one door where the person totally came to the window to see who it was and we waved at them, but then they walked away and just didn't answer the door. That happens a lot, but this time it was just so stinking funny. We were standing on this stranger's porch, busting up laughing. 

Well, that's all for this week! I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving! I love you!



Monday, November 17, 2014

Vision with Purpose

Hi everyone!

It has gotten SO COLD here. I'm seriously dying. It is so hard to wear a skirt every day in the winter. Mom, if you could send my under armor pants so that I can wear them as tights, that'd be great!

Nothing too eventful happened this week. We had zone conference and President talked a lot about vision and how necessary it is. He shared this scripture in Proverbs 29:18: "Where there is no vision, the people perish...."  He talked about how when we create a vision with an understanding of our purpose, then and only then can we create strategies and tactics to help get us where we need to go. If we try and skip straight to the tactics without thinking about our greater purpose, we'll wander around with no clear direction. One thing he said that I really like is, "Hoping things work out isn't a strategy." We have to make sure we have a clear idea about where we're trying to go if we're ever going to figure out how to get there. With that in mind, my companion and I decided to present a similar idea to the bishop. Because the ward is so new, there's no vision or ward mission plan or anything along those lines which we think is why it frequently feels that we're going nowhere as a ward. We're having a dinner with our bishop tonight and, for our dinner message, we're going to very humbly present our vision, strategies, and tactics that we have for ourselves as missionaries and ask him how we can incorporate our vision into the one he has for this ward in an attempt to encourage him to formulate a vision. Wish us luck, we're super nervous. 

I played the piano this week for Young Women's in Excellence! This might seem like a small thing but anyone who has ever asked me to play the piano during a church meeting knows that I am extremely hesitant to do so. It's been a long time since I've played anything so it wasn't perfect but I'm pretty lucky because Hispanics don't really pay attention to the piano at all when they sing. Special thank you to my wonderful piano teacher, Sister Forsyth. We had a correlation meeting right after and another set of missionaries brought something that tasted just like Sister Forsyth's ooey gooey butter cake so it literally felt like Sister Forsyth herself telling me I did a good job. :-)

We went on exchanges with Sister McCrite and her companion. I ended up going with Sister McCrite to her area in Woodburn and it was great! We taught a lot of people and I really enjoyed being with her again, even if it was just for the day.

I have a lot of pictures to attach so I'm going to start now so I don't run out of time.

From last week's trip to the Capitol...
representing by the PA flag

 Oregon's answer to the Liberty Bell

and one I found online from Zone Conference
(love the Elders photo-bombing in the back)

Note from Mom:  LOVE that she played the piano for YW in Excellence!  My reward for years of paying for piano lessons.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Lessons from Geese

Hi everyone! 

This has been such a quick week! We had a lot of meetings so it didn't leave us a lot of time to be normal missionaries but that's okay.

This week we had our first MLC (Missionary Leadership Council) which is basically a meeting in which all of the STLs and the Zone Leaders of the mission get to have a day-long meeting with President and Sister Samuelian. The purpose is to "council" about certain issues in the mission and get training that we then bring back to the other missionaries during exchanges. We also discuss the needs of the missionaries that serve and how to help them with those specific needs. It was so awesome! I think my favorite part of my new calling so far is just being able to spend more time with President and Sister Samuelian. They are just the best. 

Sister Samuelian gave a training entitled "Lessons from Geese" in which she talked about all these crazy facts about geese. Did you know geese fly in that v-formation because it gives them uplift and, because of that uplift, they can fly 70% longer? If a goose gets out of line, they feel the resistance from the lack of uplift and get back in formation. But the goose at the front has a really hard job; he has to fly without the aid of the uplift. Because of that, the geese regularly change out who the goose at the head is so that everyone bears a part of the burden. Do you know why geese honk? They honk in order to encourage the goose at the front. If one of the geese gets sick, two geese always go down to the ground with it and wait for it until it's ready to fly and then when they're ready, they take off and form their own V. Crazy, right? I've watched geese fly in those Vs my whole life and never realized how much meaning and purpose there was behind it. 

We related this to our lives and how when we all share the load, things are much easier to bear. We also talked about how when we get behind our ultimate "head goose", Jesus Christ, and let the uplift of the atonement carry us, everything is easier as well. It was super cool! 

We got a referral this week from a member for a woman she talked to in a store. On Friday night, we went to go meet the woman and her husband. As we began talking to the husband, he said, "Wait! What church are you from?" and we said, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" and he said, "Oh, that's my church, too!" Turns out he's actually a member who was baptized in Chicago, had a lot of health problems and stopped being able to attend church.  He then moved to Oregon and didn't know where to find the church over here. He said, "Yeah, I totally want to go; I just didn't know where it was." He's this super funny old guy so it's going to be a blast teaching him and his wife. It's so funny when this kind of stuff happens, and it happens a lot. It's just such a testimony to me that God really does number His children and He doesn't forget about a single one.  He's constantly looking out for us and trying to help us get back to where He wants us to be.

We went to the Capitol building today and walked around a little bit and I DID take pictures but totally forgot to bring my camera cord to the church with me. Sorry :(  Here's a few from Hermana Cardon's camera:



Monday, November 3, 2014

No "Small Things" in the Lord's Work

This week has been good.  A little slow, but it happens. 

My new comp is Hermana Cardon from Provo, UT! She's super sweet. She actually went home for a little bit because her dad passed away and she came back out when I arrived. We did all the orientation together so we already knew each other a little bit before this transfer. We're working well together and focusing on helping this ward become more missionary minded. We're both new STLs so we'll be learning together. It'll be good, we're in the same boat right now: a little scared but excited!  It'll all be good.

I don't have a lot of time to write now and not much to write about but there is one super good experience I want to share:

Last night, we were driving around visiting some less actives. We didn't have too much success.  We just met a couple of people on the way to places but none of the people we were trying to meet. We got to this one apartment that Hermana Perez and I had tried a few months ago but no one had answered the door. Hermana Cardon and I decided to try it again. When we knocked on the door, this other woman answered and, to be honest, my first thought was, "Oh great, another person that's moved away and we won't be able to find."  We started talking to this lady, though, and all three of her little kids came to the door.  We met them and were talking to them about Halloween and what not. The lady then started asking us about who we were and which church we represented.  She starting telling us about how she grew up going to church but stopped.  She's been really missing it and wanting to be able to bring her kids somewhere to learn more about God. We talked about families and how important it is to base them on the teachings of Christ. We were able to give her information on the church meeting schedule and she seemed really excited to come this week. She told us how happy she was that we had come to her apartment that night. This week in my studies I was reading this verse in Ether 3:5

Behold, O Lord, thou canst do this. We know that thou art able to show forth great power, which looks small unto the understanding of men.

It really reminded me that sometimes things that seem so small to us are actually very significant and truly are done by the hand of the Lord. I was grateful for the reminder that there are no small things in the Lord's work and definitely no coincidences.