Monday, June 29, 2015

Final Words From Mom

Dear Hermana Rawe,

So I went back to the beginning and read a lot of the first letters Dad and I wrote.  It was a lot of "you can do this" and "trust the Lord" and "be patient" and "focus on loving people" and "give it 100%" ...

Well sunshine, you have done all that and more.  I know you have struggled to feel content with your service and sacrifice to the Lord.  I want you to know that He is well pleased.  You have truly loved every person you came in contact with on your mission as the Savior would have loved them if He were there.  You have been obedient and consecrated to the work.  You have learned how to rely on the Lord and strengthened your testimony into a rock solid foundation for the rest of your life.  You have loved and served your companions and tried to continually build each one of them up.  There is a piece of your heart and soul that will forever live in Guadalajara, Mexico because you left it all on the table.  The Lord could not ask for more than you gave.

I am so proud of you!  Overwhelmingly proud of the missionary you are and will continue to be long after you come home.  There is a light in you that will continue to draw people to you because you simply radiate joy.  I am so excited for you to come home, but I'm not going to lie, I'm a little sad too!  It has gone by so fast .. it almost feels like you're coming home too early!  I'm going to miss those Monday emails and your stories!  About like the people there are going to miss knowing you are no longer in Mexico!

Enjoy the last few days .. soak up all that is beautiful and wonderful about Mexico and its people.  Take a minute and quietly ask the Lord for His final approval of your mission.  He will speak to your heart and let you know just how pleased He is.  

I love you and am incredibly blessed the Lord allowed me the blessing of being your mama!


Mexico Week 70:

Dear Family, 

Can you even believe it’s my last letter as a missionary??!!  I feel weird, but I also don’t quite believe it yet...I can’t believe it has already been 18 months. 

So let’s get the pictures explained first! This is a baby bunny. One of the families we’re teaching has 3 rabbits and they all had about 10 babies.  Holy bunnies!  She wants me to bring one home. 

Hermana Lucy was working hard with us this week. She is literally the sweetest and we get together one morning to go visit people and she brought us conchas. So cute! 

This is Hermano Hector. He is 30 and single and he’s gone to about every single church that exists. He loves to learn and has been reading the Book of Mormon and we just hope we can help him progress! 

This is Hermana Yannete. She is probably the sweetest person I know and believes in God so much. She always wants to say the prayer and loves to read. She just wants the best for her kids and we’re going to be FB friends and stay in touch. She’s special too. 

Hermila and Alfonso are the sweetest people in the whole world. I feel like I have an extra set of grandparents!!  Saturday they invited us to eat with them for my goodbye meal.  They made carne asada with guacamole and I felt like Uncle Brad wanting to lick myself it was so delicious!  They are just too sweet and Alfonso went to church by himself on Sunday!  We were so surprised!!  They are too special and they both start telling me that I can’t go home yet and that I have to call because they fell in love with one misisonary that doesn’t call and I have to call and they want me to visit, and they are just sweet.  Yesterday Hermana Hermila tells me she wants to give me something.  Her hand sewn napkins and table runners are really popular and she gives me a gorgeous white table runner and says that it’s for the day I get married. She says, I would love to be there, but if not, I can feel good that you have something from us that will always be in your home. Yesterday I started feeling super sad.  My companion is already packing my bags and yesterday I really did start to feel sad. Such a HUGE part of my heart will always be here! 

These two pictures are of Hermana Cristina, Hermana Lupita and Hermana Azucena. They are the ones that we had the family home evening with last week. They too are too sweet and have been special. 

This is Eva! We have only taught her like twice because of her crazy schedule but she is super sweet and really wants to learn. Her daughter warmed up last night and I hope the missionaries here can keep working with them. 

And this is Hermana White!  The sister training leaders came to study with us today and turns out I won’t see Hermana White anymore! She is a great missionary and she’s super sweet. 

We visited Hermana Claudia last week and she said the closing prayer and she prayed a lot for me. She thanked Heavenly Father for me, for sending me, for all of the blessings they’ve received through me, and for all of the unselfish and selfless love I’ve given. It was one of the moments where I felt the spirit so strongly.  I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, where I’m supposed to be. Missionary work is so rewarding. 

So I’ve been printing pictures and writing letters to the families here and on Sunday I gave an hermana a letter and a huge hug. Her name is Elba and she’s a returned missionary who is like 40 years old. She never marrried, takes care of her niece and nephew, works, and studies, and she’s the only member in her family. She is funny and we just get along well.  I gave her a letter and a picture of Christ and she just gives me a big hug and starts crying. I was so surprised! I think sometimes I underestimate just how much we can help and influence people.  I was literally stunned and just felt peace again, knowing that every little effort counts. We are Christ’s hands here on earth. 

I got to give a talk again in church!  Something weird happened with the bishop and he’s not bishop anymore and he only had one counselor that’s in charge of the ward now.  He said that nobody wanted to give a talk and was a little stressed and asked the missionaries to help!  I was pumped! I love giving talks.  I started thinking about the members here and what they really need.  I was praying and just thought about happiness and how we can be happy and have peace even when we are in the middle of crazy trials.  As I shared my testimony I got a little choked up and just told them how much I loved them and how much I wanted them to be happy, that they really could overcome and bear their burdens.  I felt the spirit so strongly and I realized how much I really have loved every single one of my areas. 

I have to tell y’all a story.  So Sunday night we decided to have Family Home Evening with the Castillo family.  Dad is inactive and has been a member for a year.  Mom is kind of active and super stressed and has been a member for a year.  Angel is also kind of active and also has a year as a member, and Leo is 6.  As we thought about what to share with them, we thought about love and the importance of showing love in our homes.  We sang “The Family is of God” to start but it was pouring rain and we were having to yell, and the minute they turned the TV off, Leo starts hysterically sobbing.  We started with the Proclamation and did an activity where we wrote situations and they answered how they could show love and be like the Savior.  Leo is still crying, the dad is being sarcastic, it is still raining and we were feeling like it was a disaster.  Then I had a revelation. I remembered those times when we were a little more contentious then normal and we all sat at the table and said the positive traits of every family member.  We put down the planned activity and told them what we were going to do.  It started out with ... Angel is good at drawing, and stuff like that.  Then it is Leo’s turn (he’s still crying) and Angel says Leo, you’re really a good brother.  His whole face changes, he stops crying, and says I love you too brother.  Then we all started crying and the whole night changed.  We all ended up in tears and you could feel the spirit so strongly.  I love Family Home Evenings!! 

So I was meditating a lot about my mission last night and remembering so many experiences. The Lord has blessed me so much as a missionary.  I know I still need to grow so much more and be so much better, but I feel like I have grown and learned so much.  I just love the people.  I have to call, skype, visit, all the good stuff because they are such special people and they really do miss us.  It is so incredible that the Lord gives us the opportunity to sacrifice, come on a mission, and be His hands even though we’re not perfect and even though we mess up, He still gives us the chance to do it.  It is awesome.  I have such mixed feelings.  Sometimes I feel so excited to see you guys, and other times, I just feel straight up sad.  What am I going to do all day at home??  Ha! Ha! You’re all going to get so tired of my stories and pictures and videos because it’s all I will want to talk about, and I’ll probably speak Spanglish.  But really I love you all so much and I’m pretty sure we’ll cry in the airport.  Let’s take the pictures without tear stains.  But really, I love you guys and I will never stop being grateful for the family I have. 

See y’all in six days! 

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Mexico Week 69: Being a Positive Influence

Dear Family,

I cannot even believe that I will be with y’all in 2 weeks!  Seriously, it doesn’t even feel real. Kind of makes me nervous! It will be a whole new adventure at home.

Rain Season has officially begun in Mexico.  I am putting the boots to good use! It doesn’ t matter how sunny it is in the morning … you can never leave the house unprepared!

Okay story time!!

Hermana Claudia is precious. We visited her this week and she tells us that they’ve started praying as a family!!  We have like a month and a half inviting them to do it and they started!  She said that it brings them so much peace and how awesome is that?!  She also told us a story.  She said that she went to the market to buy cheese and other things and she asked for a tiny bit of cheese and paid her 5 pesos and went to the next stand.  She told us that when she got home, she realized that they had given her more than 5 pesos worth of cheese.  She said, “I just felt bad, usually this kind of thing doesn’t even bother me before, but I couldn´t get it out of my mind!  I went back and explained the situation and we worked it out.”  We talked to her about the Holy Ghost and how he is always going to guide her now that He’s her constant companion.  She really is changing!!  She also tells me, “Hermana Rawe, we’re going to talk on Skype after you go home!  We’re going to put you on the big screen here!”  Ha! Ha!  I was so excited and just love them too much.

This week her son left on a month long trip to Tijuana, but he’s been praying and he took his Book of Mormon with him. I told him I’d see his baptism pictures on Facebook.  Ha! Ha!  But really, I know he’s going to progress too!

We’ve also been working with an investigator named Teresa.  She is super shy, but so sweet.  Her prayers are always so sincere and right to the point.  We taught her this week about the Law of Chastity and she was eating it up, that same day she talked with her spouse and they made plans to save money and to get married within the next month and a half.  She loves to learn and she’s been reading the Book of Mormon too. She is one of those special people and she always asks me, “You’re not leaving yet right?”  I keep telling her no, not yet.  No worries!

Yesterday we visited a less active family. They have been wanting to come back to church.  They asked us to teach them how to do Family Home Evening. We took lots of pictures of temples to their home and talked about temples and eternal families. We played the game Headbandz but with church terms and everyone was laughing and having fun. They really opened up with us and they are even more excited to get back to church. They’ve only been members for a couple of years and they’ve been inactive for a year. They are too sweet!

So right now, the Elder that baptized them is living with them, but last night they started telling us that he’s not really the best influence for their kids and they’re worried. I was completely shocked.  I starting thinking about how important my example is for the people I have taught in Mexico.  I always want to be worthy of their trust and that they see that I live the gospel even after my mission!  It is not that different than being a Laurel, or being a Youth Camp Leader at Girls Camp.  The younger girls look up to us ... if we are negative, they will be negative.  If we break the rules, they will think it is okay for them to not follow the rules.  It is so important that we always try to be a positive influence on each other!

I’ve been thinking a lot about everyone that I’ve met on my mission. They are all so special to me and I just want to put them all in one big room and see all of them before I leave for home!  At the beginning of my mission, I missed my home and family in Texas.  Now, I miss my home and family in Tlaquepaque … my home and family in Cruz del Sur.  I still can’t believe I’m almost leaving here.

We need to move on to happier topics … this makes me cry!  Ha! Ha!  We had a Ward activity on Saturday for Father’s Day and it was a hit!  The Relief Society was dancing and the Young Women and it was just too funny!  Speaking of this ... Dad, Happy Father’s Day!  You know how much I love you and I can’t wait to hug you soon!  Thanks for teaching me what love is!

The Lozano family gave talks and their 15 year old talked about patience.  Poor thing starts sobbing saying how surprised she was that her parents were so patient with her because she’s done bad things and she’s made things so hard for them but they’re always there.  Her parents have expressed a few worries about her and we’ve written notes and given talks to them and I just love their family a lot and Jenny made me cry.  She came down from the pulpit and her dad gave her a huge hug and I just thought about Heavenly Father.  He also loves and forgives us and is so patient.

Hermana Ramírez asked us to help in Primary because none of the teachers showed up. We taught the older kids about the Good Shepherd and it was so fun. We helped them sing their song and pass out their notes to their dads in Elder’s Quorum.  I just love being with the kids.

I feel stronger and uplifted and I know that Heavenly Father is right there.  I feel uplifted and I KNOW that the sacrament is essential.  I would never survive without it!  I love this gospel.  I love the church. I love Jesus Christ.  I love my companion and I know she’s trying too.  I love those short few moments we have when I tell her I love her, or write her a note, or we talk about the Atonement.  I treasure those short moments and I’m trying to be more loving and patient and do what the Lord has asked me to do with the right attitude.  I love my President who is my hero and sends the most amazing emails.  Second only to my dad!  I love the Elders and Hermanas here in Uruapan. I love our investigators and I love our Ward. I’m happy, struggling, but happy and learning to dance in the storms.  Love you all to the moon and back!!

See y’all soon!!

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Mexico Week 68: Love is Always the Answer

Dear sweet family!! 

You are headed out to girl’s camp and I have been praying all week that all will go well!! You’ve all worked hard and now just let the Lord work, I know that it will be great. 

So first things first...the pictures!! This is Hermana Dayana. She’s less active and this past week she was going with us to our appointments and she went to church! It’s the first time she’s gone to church since I’ve been here!! 

My companion celebrated my 17 months with balloons! 

Hermana Karla was feeling bad the last time we visited her and Hermana Lucy was with us and so we helped her get the house tidied up! Hermana Lucy is a doll!  We love her too much! 

This week was my last zone conference! Crazy stuff right?  I am going to miss President and Hermana so much! We talked about the importance of the Sabbath Day using a training from General Conference. It was AWESOME!!  We talked about the church has the purpose of uniting families for eternity, but the chain usually breaks between baptism and entering the temple and it’s because of weak gospel teaching in the HOME.  We talked about the importance of keeping the Sabbath Day holy and how it will help families. This day we send a sign to the Lord with everything we do. How are we applying in our families what is taught at church? What are we teaching our kids that we should do on Sundays? It was so good!  We also talked about the Book of Mormon and I just loved it!  We sang the song “The Family is of God”.  Not going to lie ... I got a little teary eyed! Who makes missionaries sing that song??!!  Ha! Ha!  But, it was so pretty and honestly my new favorite song. 

President counseled us to study until we complete a Doctorate, if we can. He told us not to wait for all of the luxuries of life before we get married.  He said, “Now do you understand why faith is so important?” …  I love my President!! 

I had the opportunity to give a talk in church yesterday. I LOVE giving talks. I was praying and thinking a lot about what to talk about and I couldn’t get the idea of love out of my mind. I started talking about what is love and how much our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us and how I came to know that that’s true. I used a lot of Jeffrey R. Holland’s talk, “The First Great Commandment”.  Once we’ve felt their love, there’s no going back, we have to love them too. I talked about how we show them our love and how we have a life of devoted discipleship to give. I felt the Spirit so strongly and I love this topic. We have to love, love our Father in Heaven and love everybody else. 

Last little story, yesterday we visited Claudia and Naty to see how they were doing and how it went in their baptism and confirmation and it turns out Brandon stayed at the table to chat.  He almost always leaves, but yesterday he stayed there! We started to talk about prayer and I felt the strongest impression to tell him, “I know you need a Dad. You need someone to listen to you and to help you and to love you and our Heavenly Father can be your dad. He is your dad. He will listen. He will help.  He will support.  He will counsel.”  He just looked at me and we kept sharing more.  He wants to start praying. We’re also going to start teaching him more and more! He asks us, “If I join your church, do I have to go on a mission?  Like it’s not my choice, I have to go?”  We told him he would make the decision and no one would force him.  A teacher at church always talks to him about a mission and I think he scared him! That’s why he hasn´t been hanging around!  Goodness!! 

Ha! Ha!  Well, I love you and hope that you’re all happy and not too stressed.  I want to see you all happy and in one piece at the end of Girls Camp!  I love y’all tons and can’t wait to see you soon. Keep praying for me! 

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Claudia and Naty

This week Claudia and Naty were baptized!  Ahh, their baptismal service was gorgeous!!  First, the Hermana LOVES flowers and so we bought her white ones with her favorite red roses for their big day.  We sang, “I Stand All Amazed” and I gave the first talk (Hermana Claudia picked me).  I talked about the Atonement and how Christ invites us to come unto Him and make covenants with Him, and how we have a life of devoted discipleship to give. As I was closing I got a little teary eyed and told them that even though I was not always going to be here, I would always be with them praying for them and encouraging them. I feel so much love for this beautiful family and then Hermana Claudia started crying and you could just feel the Spirit. Then Elder Neddo (chosen by Naty) talked about why we hang in there, why we just keep pushing and it’s because of the promise of an eternal family and the celestial kingdom.   The four missionaries sang, “The Spirit of God” and then Eduardo Lozano baptized them both. Everyone wrote them notes as they changed and the Bishop and his wife and the Relief Society President shared a few words and Hermano Mike got a little teary eyed and we’re hoping that being in the baptism motivates and encourages him a little bit. 

I just love baptisms!! I felt the Spirit confirming, hey you were an instrument in the Lord’s hands. He worked through you to help two of His beautiful daughters.  They’re just a little closer to making it home. It’s beautiful!  What we do as missionaries is a beautiful thing! 

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