We have had a great week in Roosevelt. In spite of having to rest up a lot (turns out I was pretty sick and I've been taking antibiotics...that have helped me feel a lot better!), we had some incredible experiences finding new people this week! This week as I've made an effort to memorize a promise of Preach My Gospel (missionary handbook basically) that our mission president has instructed us to memorize: that the Lord will guide us to prepared people or will guide them to us. I have seen it fulfilled so many times! Instance 1: We went to visit a less active family and the son was leaving (I was a little bummed because he never wants to participate in lessons). Well we started the lesson and about halfway through, the son showed up with his girlfriend! He wanted to introduce us to her. It was an amazing faith-building experience for me. Instance 2: I was feeling pretty exhausted one day and just sat down by the side of the road to eat a small lunch and an ice cream vendor sat down next to us and started talking about how he likes to go out and look at the stars and a bunch of other stuff. Anyway, he basically gave us his own reference. It was super cool.
Our favorite investigator family, Karina and Alex, also came to church this week! It was a really inspiring story to hear of their experience, because they had gotten up at 5:30 (church is at 9 AM) to start getting ready in case of whatever thing that might come up. Their son got sick, and they had to take two different buses and walk quite a bit because the first one had a detour but in spite of all these trials, they didn't let it stop them from coming to church.
Among sad news is that we are finishing another transfer cycle and my beloved mission president finishes his misson! It's been a wonderful 9 months with President and Sister Glazier, but I'm sure that President and Sister Vasquez are going to be wonderful. He's even got a mormon.org video! http://www.mormon.org/bruno
I'm glad to hear all is going well with the Division St estate and that the family is well! I love you all oh so very much. Remember, a missionary is someone who leaves his or her family for 18 to 24 months so that others can be with their families forever. I know that this is the work of God, that the church is true, and that He loves us so much individually. He answers our prayers even our tiny pleas for help. He listens. He cares. He loves me and he loves you.
Have a great week!
Saturday, June 21, 2014
It's been a pretty uneventful week in missionary work. I'm going to say that this was in part caused by the fact that we went to the temple Tuesday (4 hours of travel to get there, 1 hour being lost, 2 hours in the temple, 1 hour taking photos and buying things in the distribution center, 1 hour eating lunch and 4 hours traveling to return = we only had time for one visit in the evening!) It was a wonderful experience so I'm not complaining...and one of the things I look forward to about being home is being able to go to the temple whenever I want! The other part is because my companion and I both got sick this past weekend so we hadn't been able to proselyte all the normal hours. But we're both feeling better so things are looking up for this week.
But the great news is that our investigator Leslie showed up for the first time at church with her cousin who has been inactive for 8 years! It was really exciting for me because I hadn't really been expecting to see them at church, but when we got there, there they were in the the back of the chapel!
Other great news: I finished the Book of Mormon in English. This is officially the fastest I've ever read it (2 months) and it's not because I was rushing through it but rather because I was dedicating as many of my free moments as I could to reading it. I love this book. I love the Gospel. I think my biggest takeaway from this time around was that as we read about and study Christ, our desire to do his will increases and we can take more full advantage of the miraculous gift of His Atonement.
Remember that I love you all. I pray for you often and I hope that everything is going wonderfully in your lives. And if it isn't, remember that your Heavenly Father loves you. He has a plan for your life and he will not allow you to suffer more than you are able.
Super duper news! We had a lot of success with the service project! We ended up finishing an hour early because more people showed up than expected and we got the local government mobilized at the last minute with two huge garbage trucks. After the service project, we had requested that a sister from the ward bring a lunch for everyone that came to help, but because a few people bugged out early, we ended up with 9 plates extra. Hermana Hernandez and I sat in the kitchen of the chapel with our tub of food, despondent and wondering what we could do, when the elders in our zone began, one by one, offering to buy an extra plate and bring it home with them for dinner. I'm so often inspired by the goodness of others to answer the call of those in need. It reminds me of the pure love that Christ has for us. (I just wanted to share this story with you because I felt so grateful in this moment).
Yesterday we contacted a new family. They were very closed-minded, but we just bore our testimonies and taught the lesson. Afterwards, we were walking to another appointment, and Hermana Hernandez commented that we should pray for them that evening, that the Lord would open their hearts and make them want to pray to know if these things are true. I loved her faith in this moment! Sometimes I just want to give up on people because they don't accept the Gospel right away, but really, it's the Lord who converts them. I am learning daily how much I need to put my trust in him. :)
This week I completed 9 months in the mission... the big halfway point! Up until recently, I have felt a great anxiety that I'm not doing enough to achieve what the Lord wants, because I haven't been seeing the results I expected. But I realized that I'm just in the process of learning (as Hermana Caal said a few months ago, "You learn and learn as a missionary, and when you finally become the perfect missionary, it's time for you to go home.") and that I am trying my hardest. I have been giving it my all these past few weeks to help this area become stronger and to find new people, and there isn't anything more I can do than work and pray.
Thanks to everyone for your love and support! I can feel it from over here :)
Monday, June 2, 2014
This week has been...a little stressful! We have been working with a less active family to plan a multizone service project in our area for this Saturday and it has been hard moving the papers so that all the details in order. Every day, pretty much, I am praying that the Lord will help me be less stressed out and that I can trust that He will help us sort everything out. There are so many things in life that are out of my control and I want everything to work out perfectly and for all the pieces to line up. But I have learned to focus on what is in my control and trust that everything else will work out for the best.
We've had some incredible experiences sharing the Gospel this week. We had an incredible first lesson with a family a couple weeks back (that we found when we stopped to serve their neighbors...then we went to help them and they invited us in! It was incredible because usually we have to ask people if we can share a message with them, but with this family they requested it of us! During the whole first lesson, the mother kept asking how she could know if our message was true and what was God's church on the earth...exactly what as a missionary, I wanted to hear!) and this Saturday we returned to teach them again. From the beginning of the lesson to the end, it was ANOTHER super powerful lesson! When we asked if they had read the pamphlet we had left with them, they had...and the mother asked us what were the requisites for baptism! They didn't accept a baptismal date because she doesn't want to get married...but I feel confident that she will one day soon. I left from this appointment with a great increase of faith that the Lord is preparing people for us to teach.
We also met with our bishop this Sunday. And, to be honest, our bishop flat out told us he was discouraged with the members in the ward and there were many unwilling to accept callings or complete with them. We gave him a bit of a pep talk and promised that we were willing to do our part to help. And then--and I think this was key--Hermana Hernandez commented about his missionary plaque that he had on his desk. He started to remember his experiences as a missionary and a bishop he had who was very consecrated to his calling. I think this memory will inspire him and remind him of his potential to do good and help his ward progress. We all left feeling the spirit and feeling very enthused. I am so grateful for the chance to be serving in this ward. It has a lot of room for improvement, but leaving the ward stronger than I found it is part of my purpose. I know that, with Hermana Hernanadez and the elders in our ward, we are all going to help motivate the leaders, members, and less actives of this ward.
I hope that you all have a wonderful week. Remember that God loves you, more than you can imagine. You are his child. He has prepared the way for you to return to him, but He is waiting for you to make the choice to follow this path. I love you and I pray for you often.
I am feeling so loved this week! Thanks for your support, your prayers, and your delightful news. I'm glad to hear that all is going well and that Heavenly Father is looking out for you! Life's always changing here (and yet staying so much the same that it does NOT feel like time is passing)...such as we recently changed our language study to the evening hours to make more effective use of the morning hours. Little things like that require adjusting because one is used to doing things a certain way, but the Lord inspires our leaders. I have learned to appreciate that so much on the mission.
As far as missionary work, I would say probably our coolest experience was teaching a family this week (a mother and daughter) because the daughter was struggling to read a paragraph as part of the lesson and her mom was so sweet and encouraging: "You can do it, baby!" And the next day, the daughter came to church with us and was so excited (and patient when we had to say goodbye to a lot of people before took her home). I love the people I get to know on the mission.
I've been reading in the Book of Mormon and it surprises me how much it applies to my life. I'm reading a part of the book of Alma where it talks about wars, contentions, and wars and was not expecting to find anything about my life or missionary work, but as I read, I recognized in the example of Moroni fortifying the cities he already had (strengthening members and less actives) and building new cities (converting) and strengthening them as well (retention) a model of missionary work. I share this as an example of one way that the Lord speaks to us according to our needs and our faith, through his inspired scriptures. He will answer your prayers...he has answered mine. I am so grateful for the opportunity to be on a mission and strengthen my own personal testimony of the Restored Gospel, and I hope that I can help others to have the same testimony one day.
Funny story of the week. So, like I said, it's HOT here, and one day this week it was pretty much unbearable (my companion uses an umbrella to protect her from the sun...in the beginning I was laughing at her, but recently I have been considering bringing my umbrella with me while we proselyte). About midday, a man biked by us with a bucket upside-down on his head. We could not contain our laughter. By the way, I love Hermana Hernandez a LOT. She is one of my favorite companions to date on the mission...we have really spiritual experiences together in lessons (and she has such a strong testimony!) but at the same time, when it's time to laugh, boy oh boy do we make each other laugh!
Hope you all have an excellent week!
Sunday, June 1, 2014
Guess who's in a new area? Just guess!
I am in the most beautiful part of El Salvador...called San Miguel! It's also famous as the hottest part, but luckily we're starting "winter" here so the weather hasn't been that bad. More than anything, I am loving being out of the city for the first time. I love my new ward, Roosevelt, and there is a lot of work to be done here. AND my new companion, Sister Hernandez, is great! She's from Honduras and we get along sooo well!
This week we've had some incredible experiences looking for new people to teach (the constant struggle of missionary life haha) including a moment when we helped a family clean up their cut grass and they AND their neighbors said we could return to teach them later on. I love this country so much and the people here! It's going to be a really great transfer.
"This is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul unto repentance; and my joy." (Alma 29:9). I have always loved the idea of being an instrument in the hands of God. It is so humble, recognizing that it isn't us that brings the success, it's him. It's also the idea of loving God so much that you want to do His will. These past few weeks, I've been thinking about the importance of our motives...Not only being obedient to the commandments like a list of rules, but loving him enough that it is your desire to do what he asks.
In a zone conference a few weeks ago, President Glazier spoke of the parable of the talents, what motivated each servant. He asked us what kind of servant we want to be: one that is motivated by fear or one that is motivated by love? I know now that I want to serve the Lord with all my might, mind, and strength. I have to work hard, try to do things different and better, but I feel great happiness being a missionary.
Thank you for your love and support and your prayers. It gives me so much strength to remember how many people love me "back home"!