Wednesday, June 26, 2013

June 24, 2013 - "I will forever love Alma 26"

Hola Mis Queridos!
This week has been nothing short of crazy. The last five days have been some of the hardest, longest, most exhausting days of my mission, with the least results.
When we arrived here in May Valley, we were given very little instruction as to the things that they wanted us to do. In fact, next to no instruction. We were handed an area book, and told, "go pray". And so we did. We knew going into it that we were going to have to knock a lot of doors. 
The area here is completely opposite of Kent. The houses are all pretty big, and really spread out across the country. Very different than back-to-back apartments.
Tuesday got off to a late start because of transfers and the "What do we do with the visa waiters fiasco." But Wednesday we woke up determined to find someone to teach.
On our way home from the library last week, we saw ONE trailer park in our area, so we decided to start there. Score, nearly all the houses were Spanish. We knocked nearly the whole park, and no one wanted to listen. We were walking back to the car, and saw a guy leaning up against a fence. I smiled and waved, but he just looked back down at his phone. "Let's go talk to him!" So we walked up, introduced ourselves, and just like everyone else he gave us the "How in the world do you know Spanish?" We got him talking, and after a few minutes of asking him questions, he opened up completely. He told us all about his life, how hard he's been working, his family. He told us that he's been thinking a lot lately about how he needs religion and more of God in his life, we introduced him to the Book of Mormon, and then invited him to be baptized, he was really excited about it, and told us he would read that night!
We knocked a few more doors, and then found another man named Victor, he told us that he's had a really rough couple years, when we told him who we are, he said "Oh, I need more God in my life." He then told us everything about his "rough" couple years. He lost everything a couple years ago, job, car, house, money, and then his best friend was stabbed. He told us he knew that God had brought him to the lowest of the low to teach him a lesson. We told him we know that God loves him, and has a plan, we talked about repentance, faith, and we sang to him. After we sang, he was completely silent, we asked how he felt, and he said "there aren't words to describe this. It's different than anything I've ever felt. I love this feeling. Thank you for giving me this." 
Guillermo (the first man we found in the trailer park), read 2 Nephi 31 that night. Then the next day called us with AWESOME questions about baptism and the Holy Ghost. He works 3 jobs, and so appointments are nearly impossible, but we've been working with him over the phone, short stop-by appointments. He is learning so quickly, and is really absorbing everything. It took him 40 minutes to say his first prayer. He said he knew we were right that Satan was working hard to make him feel that he didn't know how to pray, but we worked with him, and it was an amazing prayer, the spirit was so strong. He is so prepared!
Every day I am more and more grateful for this gospel. The power that it has to change lives is like nothing I've ever seen. The truths, hope and LOVE that we have to offer people are messengers of Jesus Christ is so powerful. It would be so easy to become discouraged day in and day out, wading through torrential rain, finding next to no one to teach, but every day is such a blessing, and I know that there's a purpose behind everything. 
We're still trying to figure out why exactly they wanted to open a Spanish seccion here. As the days go on we realize more and more how very small our teaching pool is. Sometimes people that seem so interested disappear off the map, and you can never find them again. I'd be lying if I told you that this week was super successful. It's been one of the hardest of my mission. We come home each night soaked, cold, exhausted, and our numbers are pretty pathetic. 
But we keep being reminded that everything about this work is for "a wise purpose in HIM". I've never felt so much like Nephi in my life. We go out each day having NO IDEA "the things that we should do"... but we work hard, the way we know how, we pray A LOT, and at the end of each day, all of our efforts are given to the Lord. I'm learning so much, and I'm grateful for every experience, the good and the bad. I will forever love Alma 26. The greatest missionaries had the greatest trials, they had moments of depression, doubt, sorrow, frustration, but they didn't let it get to them. They were told to bear with patience their afflictions, to do the work, to stick close to God, to keep their promises, to be exactly obedient, and the Lord promised to bless them. And he did. He does. I see it every day.
I love you all so much, I love hearing each week about all of the great things you're all doing, and I love your testimonies. I always joke with people that if my siblings could all be on missions at 8, 12, 14, and 17, they would be. You are all so strong, and I look up to your examples.
Para siempre Dios este con vos!
Hasta Luego!
Con Mucho Amor,
Your Hermana C

Members house in May Valley that we are living with!

THEY have the cutest house!!

We have our own kitchen and we are having fun cooking when we have time!

So they "banned" grocery bags here, the trip was great in the rain. One by one with each box. Hermana Cooley's comment was "Welcome to Washington, where pot is legal, but plastic grocery bags aren't!"

Hermana Cooley and Hermana Cox

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

June 19, 2013 - May Valley Transfer

Hola Todos!!
How is everyone doing? Thank you all so much for the birthday packages and love. I FINALLY got them this week with transfers. So now we'll get to celebrate 2 weeks later!
This past week was crazy. Everyone was a little bit antsy about transfers, and people going home, the mission splitting (did I tell you that they're splitting the Seattle mission and creating the Federal Way mission starting July 1? well, that's happening.), our mission President is going home the end of this month, we're still anxiously awaiting visas, as you can see, a lot is going on. But, the work continues, and we're all still working hard.
This past week I had some of the most amazing experiences.
So back in my first letter, I think I talked about Bartolome. We met him my second day tracting, he was my first on-date, and the first Libro de Mormon that I ever handed out. We've been working with him constantly for the past 6 weeks, and I LOVE him so much! Since day one I've just been able to connect with him. But he's been really stubborn about the whole baptism thing. He knows the doctrine, he's had all the lessons, and he says he knows it's true and that he needs to be baptized. 3 weeks ago as I was studying about what to teach him, since he knows all of the "basics" I just kept getting this feeling that I can't leave Kent (or get my visa) until Bartolome promises to be baptized. President Larkin challenged us 2 weeks ago to find a stone and write the name of the person who was our "Ebenezer" or our miracle baptism.
 This past week we've been taking him Pero, to help finish off his last few cups of coffee (We've just been prepping him for baptism even though he said he wasn't sure). On Saturday we had a lesson, and I just told him again that he is SO ready to be baptized, and asked him to pray about June 22. He said Yes! Finally. Then out of no where he asked "So how long are you going to be able to teach me?" We looked at each other, knowing transfers were this week. We explained the situation, and he was so sad! But he promised he would pray.
Monday all of our lessons fell through, and I really felt like I wanted to go check in and see Bartolome. So we went, and he was sitting outside. Before we really said anything, he said "I've been thinking. And I know that I need to be baptized." I nodded, and then he said, with tears "Can you give me a picture of you so that when I go back to my country I can show them MY hermanitas? My angelitas that brought me back to God?" We told him that we would. Then he asked us if we knew if we were leaving. We told him we didn't know yet. He grabbed both of our hands and said with tears "I know that sometimes you have to leave, and it will be so hard for me to open up to new missionaries. They won't be MINE, you two have brought me this message in such a loving way. When you first came, you couldn't speak Spanish, and I still can't speak English, but here we are, and I've understood. I'll pray that he'll let you stay just a little bit longer." The minute he said that, I could just feel that I was probably getting transferred. But we just told him that yeah, missionaries might change, but that doesn't change that it's all true. So I told him "You have to promise me that even if we do get transferred, you will still continue en la camina ("the way" is what he always calls it)" "I promise!"
 We sang "Para Siempre Dios Este Con Vos" (God be with you till we meet again), and said See you later. It was hard, knowing that I probably wouldn't get to see his baptism, but I was grateful that I was able to work with him these last 6 weeks and see his change from this pretty prideful, a little bit hesitant man, to someone who knows and understands God's will for him, and had come to love these two young, "not-very-knowledgeable" young girls who don't know Spanish. 
So, you're probably all awaiting to hear the news about transfers.
I showed up to the stake center on Tuesday, and got my little white envelope with my new assignment. I'm serving in an area called May Valley, it's in South Bellevue. It's SO different than Kent. It's gorgeous and rain forest-y here. May Valley is a "whitewash" area, meaning there weren't missionaries here before. They handed me a completely blank area book, a box of copies of El Libro de Mormon, and gave me keys to a car (that technically my little visa-waiter self is not allowed to drive. eek) Then they said, okay, go pray, and get to work! And guess who my new companion is? Hermana COOLEY!! My companion from the MTC! We are two little greenies, 6 weeks old, training each other, and going to open a new area in this beautiful countryside! It's going to be an adventure! But I am so excited to be back with her, and even more excited to write our own story out here! We're living with a member family who got a phone call the Monday night at 10:30 to let them know we were coming. They're awesome though, and the house is cute. More news to come! The Lord knows what he's doing, and I believe in MIRACLES!
I love you all so much, I hope that this week was great! I pray for you always, thank you for the continuous outpouring of birthday love (I'll just drag it out for as long as possible, eh?).
Les Quiero, Muchisimo!
xoxoxoxo Your Hermana C

 The skies here are like a painting!!!

My new living space!

living space part two. 
Surprise! My new companion-Hermana Cooley from the MTC!

                                                               So happy to be back together again!!!!!!!!!
My hair is totally turning RED, you can't really tell in these, but it's the weirdest color!

June 19, 2013 - Q and A's

1.  Did you get the birthday package? We had transfers yesterday. So I FINALLY GOT THE BIRTHDAY PACKAGES!!! THANK YOU!! everyone was dying over how great of a birthday Celebrater you are!!
2. Are the kids in your photos like the ones you were cutting their hair members? The kids in the picture are Monica's kids, so it's a part-member family.
3. Where do you shop for your foods.  We shopped at Fred Meyer in my other area, here they have a Safeway, so we'll probably do that.
4. Are you sending the shoes that didn't work home? I sent a package with shoes, and mail/pictures that were taking up space. save them please.
5. can we send letters directly to you? No, in this mission, the president doesn't allow us to give our direct addresses, so we have to go the VERY round-about way.
6.How is the earwig problem, I wonder about that one? I am no longer in the broken down apartment, so I'm not worried about the earwigs.... ha
7. how old were some of the other missionaries in your zone?  Most of the newbies coming in are all really young, we had a 22, 23, 27 year old in my old zone. Not sure about this new one. (more details to come, you'll never believe what happened!)
Love you!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

June 10, 2013- Birthday Week

Hola Todos!!
Como estan?? Espero que todo estebien con ustedes! tanto tiempo! 
It's just another crazy p-day here in good old Kent. I can't believe it's already the last week of my first transfer in the field! Time is a crazy thing. The sun is shining, and we've been rain free for a few whole days! I'm loving getting a taste of summer!
So the latest news...whelp, I'm officially 21 now.. although everyone in my district kept wishing me a happy 20th, so I guess I'll just stay 20 for another year. My birthday started out just like any other day here in the mission. and apparently my companion doesn't believe in birthdays. But, later in the day our district leaders and the other sisters in our zone brought me cards and cookies. We had a day full of lessons, and then that night we went to Monica's (the recent convert) for a lesson and a mini-celebration. We made dinner, and she bought me a banana and ice cream for my make shift "cake". (pictures to come!) We used the candles and the banner, THANKS MOM. I can always count on you to send me those pieces of love no matter where I am in the world :). I love you guys!
They gave me sandia for my birthday!!!!
(watermelon) because they know it's my favorite!!

Make-shift cake, Banana and ice cream!

Make a wish!
The rest of the week was...well... I'd be lying if I said it was fun. This week all but one of our progressing investigators decided that they no longer want to take lessons, including Roxana, that was heartbreaking. We had a lesson with her and she told us that she knows that it's all true, and that she likes to learn, but she just "doesn't feel it"... we talked about the ways that the spirit testifies to us of the truth, and tried to help her to understand how she could "feel" that answer. The thing that was the hardest for me is that she's such a spiritual person by nature that I think it was just hard for her to realize that she'd been getting those answers as she prays. But she told us that she'll continue reading, praying, and waiting for an answer, but she doesn't want to convert right now.
Due to our lack of lessons, we did a lot of knocking and a lot of coming up with new ideas to find people. 
I know that tracting is a part of missionary work, but sometimes it feels like THE most inefficient way to find people. For two days we tracted buildings that resulted in no Spanish people, and a lot of slammed doors. It's okay for a while, but after hours and hours it really starts to wear on you. I can handle the rejection, it's just knowing that people don't know what they're missing that really gets to me. We knock, invite, and a lot of times the door is shut before we even finish saying the name of the Church. I was thinking a lot this week of that picture of the Savior, when he's knocking on the door. There's no handle on his side. That's how this work is a lot of the time. We knock, and wait, and hope that they'll open and listen. The handle is on their side.
We did a service project on Saturday morning where we cleaned up some of the main roads in Kent. It was fun to be able to work with the Kent City Committee people and it was amazing how much they noticed the example and the work-effort of missionaries. It really goes to show that people notice a difference. We all showed up in our jeans and t-shirts (which was extremely weird and felt a little wrong), but they all noticed, and said " We were kind of hoping you'd show up in your suits and dresses, it really makes a statement! 
I can't tell you how many doors I've knocked where people are so shocked that there's "ladies" there at the door, the looks on some of their faces are priceless, but hey, their curiosity usually gives us enough time to at least place a card!
After service on Saturday, we had another day of knocking, and searching. We went to one apartment complex and the first 20 or so doors we got one opened, and they spoke Ukrainian. Then we walked into the street, we saw a bunch of kids up ahead, watching an older kid (our age) do tricks on a skateboard. They saw us coming, and some of them ran away, he turned and saw us and was about to take off. I waved and shouted Hello. He waited and we walked up, I smiled and held out my hand as we introduced ourselves. He hesitantly shook my hand and then asked what this was all about. He was covered in tattoos, and had lots of piercings. I told him we are missionaries, and when he made a face, I asked him what his beliefs were. He told me that he was more of a believer in the things of the world. We asked if we could leave a card with him, and he said "You can... but to be honest I probably won't keep it." I said Well, Chris, our message is that God loves you........and I stood there and testified that God has a plan, and that even when things are hard, and life seems like nothings going right, there's someone we can turn to.... midway through he got down off his skateboard. I finished, and challenged him to look at the website. He looked at the card, put it into his pocket, and said "Yeah, I'll do that. And hey, thanks." We shook hands again, and he took off on his skateboard. We passed by the spot on our way to the car, and he yelled hello, and told us good luck. I'm not saying that it's going to turn into anything....but then again, I'm not saying it won't.... but I've honestly learned that there isn't anyone who doesn't need the gospel, and as I talk with these people and learn to see them as God does, I can really feel how much he loves each and every one of them.
After a long day of knocking, and not much success, we decided to try a few more doors before we went to our last apartment. One of the kids that had run away earlier came around the corner and went into a house, speaking Spanish. Hmmm...being complete stalkers, which sometimes you have to do when you finally spot a Latino kid, we waited a minute, and then followed and knocked the door. He answered and told us that his mom was outside somewhere. So we followed him and he took us to her. 
She told us that she'd had a friend that is a member, but she'd moved to Arizona, she said she'd always been curious about the church and wanted to learn more. We asked her what she knew and she just said she really liked the peace and happiness that her friend had in her life. So we asked her to come to church the next day, and if we could come back and teach. She said they couldn't come to church because she has a child that has a lot of medical problems and she has to care for him on Sunday mornings. I felt prompted to ask her about her child. She opened up to us and told us everything about her son, when he was 2 months old he got severe pneumonia, has a trachea now, had a feeding tube for a while, has trisomy 21 and spends a lot of time in the hospital. As she was talking I was filled with so much love for her and the strength that she has. She is doing everything she knows how to be a good mom and to care for her other kids, she has been taking medical classes to learn more about how to care for her needy baby. We testified to her of God's plan, and we sang "Eternas Pueden ser Las Familias" (Families Can Be Together Forever). The spirit was so strong, and at the end we asked her how she felt. Her chin began to quiver, and she cried as she told us that that was the peace and the hope she needs in her life. We testified of the hope that comes from the gospel, and set up a return appointment with her for tomorrow.
I love this gospel. I love the message that I have the opportunity to share. I love that God's love for us is so unconditional, and so far-reaching. I have seen so many people whose lives are so hard, but that have been able to find peace in the truths that we know. I've learned so much about peace, love, and more than anything else, HOPE.
I love you all so much. Every day I am so grateful for all that I've been blessed with and the knowledge that I have of the gospel. I can't imagine life without it.
Sending this with lots of hugs and hopes that you all feel how loved you are.
Con Mucho Amor, 
Your Hermana C
Our zone

Monica was teaching me how "real women" open cans. 
aka; people who don't have can openers. She's awesome.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

June 4, 2013 - No es facil, pero vale la pena!

Our Zone at Temple Day!

Our district-Seattle Temple Day-Washington is so beautiful!

Hola Todos!!
Okay, so I apologize ahead of time, we had a temple trip today, and so our p-day is even more crunched than usual.
Wow, once again, this week has been packed full of miracles. That's a word that we use A LOT here in this mission. And I honestly don't think I ever appreciated the meaning of that word as much as I do now.
This past week has been all-together exciting, stressful, emotional, hard, exhausting, crazy, long, humbling, eye-opening, and as always so rewarding.
We found so many amazing, prepared people this week. We had several lessons that were awesome, and then of course there was Justina's baptism.
I'll start by saying this. Everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong, (the person to fill the font forgot, no one from the branch was there until 8:30, we didn't bring a towel, two people from the program forgot, and more) but she had no idea, and so in her eyes it was perfect, and that's really all that matters. Thursday was the day before her baptism, and she wanted to go on a tour of the font. So we took her to the stake center, but there was a last minute baptism going on. So we decided to stay for that. It was in English, but we figured the spirit and seeing how it's done would be helpful. So, it turns out that the girl being baptized is Terrified (that's an understatement) of water. So getting her in the font was total chaos, and then, her leg came up because she was flailing, and so she had to do it again....well, you can imagine how that went over. It was so bad. AND it was in another language, so she had no idea what was happening. I was sitting there just praying that Justina would have peace, and still want to be baptized. Well, the church is true.... because she was baptized on Friday night, and it was one of the coolest experiences. She was a little jittery, but as soon as she came out of the water, she was GLOWING. She started crying, and we sat there and hugged her as she just explained that everything was perfect. She bore the greatest testimony afterwards and the spirit was incredible!
She was confirmed on Sunday, and is already the cutest little new member ever! She's already making plans to go to the temple and do work for her family.
(although she rarely smiles for pictures, but she is literally the happiest "abuelita" ever!!)

All this week, the only thing I could think of was how lucky I am to be a part of this work. I literally feel like I have done nothing. I know that I haven't. This is the Lord's work, and that's the only way anything ever gets done. I'm just the "mailman". I deliver the message in my simple way, and then it's between them and the Lord what happens next. I know that's true without a doubt, people tell me all the time "Oh, your Spanish is so good!" and I know that sometimes it's members lying to me, but more than that I know it's the spirit. I was reading in Preach My Gospel about Brigham Young's conversion, and he said something along the lines of "Hearing it from educated, eloquent men would not have convinced me of the truth. But when I heard it from a simple, faithful, humble servant of the Lord, it made all the difference." I know that sometimes the Lord really does call the weak things to confound the wise. I'm a living example of that. I have so many "disabilidades" and things I need to work on. And it amazes me that fresh-out-of-high-school boys, and young, sometimes immature young women, can be given the tools they need to become effective teachers of this gospel. THAT, is a miracle. 
I still haven't heard anything about visas. It's hard going day to day not knowing where I'll be tomorrow. But I'm working hard to make my time here count. I know that I was meant to be HERE, in Kent, WA. I have so much love for the people here. The stories I hear and the people I meet, whether they decide to accept the gospel or not, have changed my life. Every day is such a blessing, and when I really take the time to kneel down and name them all it amazes me. I don't deserve everything that I've been given, but I'm going to work my very hardest to show my gratitude. It's hard, and there's no way I can ever even attempt to "repay" my Heavenly Father and Savior for all that they've done for me.
No es facil, pero vale la pena! (it's not easy, but it's worth it.) It's my catch phrase :) and I believe it with todo mi corazon. it WILL be worth it. 
I love you all so much. I hope that all is well. You are in my thoughts and prayers constantamente. 
Con Mi Amor,
Your Hermana C

June 4, 2013 - 5 Q and A's and some housekeeping!

Monica- my "momma" she made us GOAT :)

Birthday party for Susana

Service project, washing a members dogs fleas off Chihuahua!

               Ice cream in a cantaloupe.

1.Hey do you get money back for the $60.00 airport fee? Yeah, I got it back. They had to put all my money on my companions money card, because I don't get one cause I'm only a "temp" (I'm beginning to wonder about that :/)
2.Have you received any of the Packages?   I got the shoes, thank you thank you. Umm so packages take forever to get maybe I don't know, I don't want you spending tons of money to send them... I'll ask on that other rule though. (the mailing straight to me). mail me letters in the mail though, because those usually get here fast. packages just take forever cause the zone leaders have to go get them... in Bellevue.
3.Is the sleeping bag working? What do you like or not like about a sleeping bag versus blanket/sheets.  Other people asking for their missionaries? I actually love the sleeping bag, some nights I wake up a little hot, but other nights it's so nice...and it's much easier to make in the morning ;)
4. How is a regular schedule treating you, your skin and your health? The regular schedule is really good. I'm exhausted most nights, and 10:30 bedtime is my new best friend :)
5. So do you know that is black mold for sure because from what I can read that is really bad.  Be careful.  Lysol has a mold product as well. So buy some from Walmart and get masks too.  YES, Onguard will hopefully kill the black mold! but don't waist it all on that!*If you really think it is you might want to tell someone and see if they have a policy to get that cleaned up for you.???