Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mexico Week 10 -- Happy, Happy, Happy

Dear sweet family of mine!  Are you all ready to get all caught up?

Okay first things first, the pictures are of a part of town called Sauz!  It’s actually kind of the ghetto and everybody tells us to be safe there, but nothing’s ever happened to us!  Please enjoy the shoes on the line!  Isn’t that from the movie “Like Mike”?  I can’t remember for sure, but it cracked me up. 

Also, I’ve started doing push-ups in the morning. Guess what!  First day, I could literally only do one.  Que oso! Or like ¨how embarassing¨ in English. Well now I can do 10! Ha! 

Mom, the kids absolutely LOVED the treats from your Easter package. I’m like the most popular person I know!  Psych!  But really, the kids love the eggs and the coloring packs are absolutely perfect for Sacrament meeting. 

Big thank you to Amber Tolman and her family this week!  I got a letter from the whole family!  Tell the kids it’s a little hot right now, but the weather is pretty nice and the food is even better!  I love being a missionary and they have to start getting ready now if they want to serve a mission!

Also, big thank you to the Jeansonne´s, from Ohio.  I figured they must be part of Mom’s family!  They sent literally a huge package.  We were having interviews with the President and I shared my treats with the elders, but the big joke is that I always get packages and they were more fired up because I was entirely sure who it was from!  Hey, at least I share!   Thanks for loving on me as a missionary and know that we all love and appreciate it!

Okay, now for the good stuff! So remember how Antonio can’t see pretty much anything?  Well, we gave him a Book of Mormon and during certain times of the day with the right lighting, he can read it!  He reads 3 or 4 chapters a day and we’re working with him on identifying what he learned about Christ from his reading. Some days we read with him.  I love picking out the lessons we learn from the stories. The Book of Mormon is literally full of treasures! 

Paty Reynaga and her whole family came to church again this week!  Her progress is incredible. She has the strongest desire to give her kids the best example and she’s changing her life for them.  They’re reading the Book of Mormon and set an hour for family prayer.  My heart just melts every time I sit with her whole family at church.  They are truly incredible people. 

This week we had interviews with the mission president!  In all honesty, I was a little nervous!  President Camarillo is so amazing, and he really has a spirit about him.  First things first...Spanish! Our interview was in Spanish.  He told me my Spanish was truly incredible and he asked me if I would come to the First 12 Weeks Meeting with the group of missionaries that arrived the transfer after me and share something.  We talked about inspiring them and getting them excited about learning Spanish.  I was so pumped!  He also told me that Hermana Valdez and I now have clearance to speak English one hour a day so that she can practice her English!  I’m so excited! 

Oh also, President told me that he found y’all on Facebook and that we have a beautiful family!  My first thought was awwww, and second thought was ¨oh no, what does my rowdy family have on Facebook” followed by “I wonder if he’s seen the video of Tamsyn and I singing with corn dogs or acting like Barbies!¨  Ha! Ha!  But really, y’all are great! 

President and I talked about a scripture in 3 Nephi 19:25-30. I really love that it talks about Christ smiling upon us.  We talked about the sanctification the disciples experienced and how the truly were in constant communication with Christ and we can become the same.  I want to achieve this.  I want to maintain the habits I’m forming here for the rest of my life and with my family! 

So today is Monday, or the day of the First 12 Weeks Meeting. The new missionaries have about a month here and my job was to inspire them that they could learn Spanish. I really worked hard to prepare and the Spirit was awesome!  The words flew out of me in Spanish and it was so cool because I also spoke clearly and with emphasis and it was all the Spirit helping them understand.  I shared Ether 12:27 and applied it to being missionaries and learning a language. The look on some of their faces was incredible.  I love when I get to be an instrument in the Lord’s hands.  I know that we are all going to have difficulties and face challenges as we come unto Christ.  It is not an easy path but it’s definitely worth it.  I know that Christ calls us in our strengths and in our weaknesses.  He knows us inside and out and He knows exactly what we’re capable of.  I love you all tons and hope that each of you work with Christ to overcome your weak points.  Be humble, have faith, and you’ll always be able to feel Him by your side. 

I love y‘all! Please let me know if there’s anything I can do for you! 

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Zone Activity - Cruz del Sur

Last week we had a zone activity!  We played volleyball and played with water balloons and had pizza.  Guys, it was so fun!  Sometimes it’s really nice to take a break and not think about anything, just have fun!  Such a good stress reliever!  

Our zone is so fun and I love all of the missionaries that are learning English. My companion was joking with one of our zone leaders saying, ¨You’re paying for our pizza right?¨ He told her in English, “I don’t have any money.¨  My companion pops back with, “That’s not my problem!¨  I was dying laughing!  So many of them are learning English and the small phrases they know crack me up. 

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mexico Week 9 -- The Gospel Is For Families

Well today was wild with zone activities, having to take the other hermanas to the president’s house and so we have no time to write!  I’m washing clothes in the sink and we’re showering in cold water because we don’t have time to buy gas.  Ahh, the missionary life ... gotta love it!  This whole week just flew by! 

I love Mexico!  Sometimes old men are just gettin it singing and playing the guitar on the buses and people tip them and it’s great.  Nothing like some entertainment while you’re traveling!  Oh, and we had a mini earthquake! I’m talking like 2 seconds but it was a ¨Grandpa pass the milk¨ moment and we were dying laughing! 

Remember JuanCarlos Reynaga?  Our first baptism?  Well now his sister has a baptismal date!  She has 4 kids all under the age of 11 and they’re a little rowdy!  Haha!  But so fun!  She accepted a baptismal date this week.  She works all the time and her life is crazy. She was telling us that church was just too early in the morning. We had a lesson with her Saturday night and it was awesome. The Spìrit and the words just poured out of me.  I talked about the example that she is for her family and her desires to follow and love the Savior.  Guess what?  We show up Sunday morning and they’re all ready to go. The whole family has never gone to church since I got here.  I may or may not have teared up a little bit. Hermana Paty loved church and just talked about feeling so much peace and love.

The gospel is for families.  It really is, and moms have such an effect on their kids.  I hope that I’m always an example and that I will be proud of the example I set.  For real, sometimes we don’t understand, but the influence of parents is huge! 

Well I’ll have to tell you the rest next week, but keep doing what you’re doing!  Be examples and stick to your guns! Take time every day to think about the Savior and his sacrifice personally for you.  Love you all so much! 

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Hermana Valdez

Mostly just because we look cute today!

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Have a Coke and a Smile

It is so true ... first you drink it ... then you SMILE!!

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Visa Check and MTC Friends

We had a visa check this week, which means I got to see all of my MTC girls!  

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Mi Abuela Rosa Elia

One of my favorite families -- Rosa Elia and her grandkids, Nicole and Alexis.  Now if we could just get Juan Carlos to come to church with them!



Rosa Elia:

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Mexico Week 8 -- Covenants and Promises

First things first...we ate these taquitos in the street and they changed my life.  Wanna know something even cooler? I liked them better with the sauce that had chilis!  Who’s Mexicana now?  Rach, I miss the Hot Cheetohs days, but guess what??  They have hot taquitos here in chip form and they’re pretty close! 

This week, after conference, I started something new. Every night, I write my blessings of the day.  It is changing my life! I go to bed so happy and all I do is take five minutes to write down kind of some funny things that I consider blessings.  I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY.  We honestly have so much to be grateful for despite all of the business in life. 

Remember Hermana Claudia? She’s the one that takes care of Antonio’s wife. She is a doll and one hundred percent Catholic. We’ve been going to Antonio’s house every day and I think he’s really going to get baptized.  Hermana Claudia is like our mom. Really, she is.  She bought us shirts and always talks to us about everything.  The three of us secretly call Antonio our abuelito.  

It is perfect.  We’ve talked a little bit about the gospel, but she’s so great and so prepared!  With Antonio, well he can’t see, so we’ve started reading the Book of Mormon out loud to Him.  It is such a special experience.  I know that we need the Book of Mormon EVERY DAY.  It has the power to heal whatever pain we may have, whatever thing we may be lacking, it will change our perspective of so many things. READ IT. 

Remember Hermana Infante?  She’s also kind of my mom here.  She came with us to a lesson and afterward, we were in her car talking and it turns out that they are having some family struggles.  It blows my mind how open people are with us and then I remember that we’re representatives of Christ and people truly trust us with their burdens.  Hermana Infante is the Primary President.  She talked about a lot of pain in her family.  She talked about how much comfort she finds in the sacrament and also in us.  She told her that her patriarchal blessing promises her that if she endures her trials faithfully, her posterity can live in righteousness.  She was crying and just told us that it is all worth it for her kids and grandkids.  She’s like the strongest person I know.  

This is why we have the commandments. Because in all honesty, wickedness never was happiness.  This is why we have the Law of Chastity, the Word of Wisdom, all of it, because Heavenly Father is protecting us from pain.  She honestly blows my mind.  She always sees the bright side.  She’s working things out with her husband, and she’s putting everything she has into her calling and service and trying as hard as she can to not have bad feelings toward others. This is how we face adversity ... by turning TO the Gospel, not AWAY from it. 

Last little thing, I’ve been studying a lot in Alma lately, toward the end. Remember the war chapters that used to be boring?  Well now they’re changing my life.  We have to be faithful to the end. We have to strengthen every weak point that we have with diligence.  It is not enough to receive a testimony one time, to feel the Spirit one time, to forget the commandments that are harder to live.  We have to be crazy flippin diligent and then fortify every weakness.  You want to know what else?  Covenants are the real deal.  The Lord NEVER forgets and He lives up to every promise.  Will we do the same?  The Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s were about to break their covenant. They had buried their weapons, but the war was hard, their brothers were dying, but guess what?  They left their weapons in the ground and not one of their sons was killed.  No matter how hard it is, we can’t break covenants, we have to trust that the Lord will keep every single one of his promises. 

Y’all are so great!  I thank Heavenly Father daily for how incredible every single one of you is. Keep your covenants, trust the Lord, and share what we have. 

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Hermana Hernandez

Mexico Week 7 -- Singing, Singing, All the Day

Dear Family!  This week literally flew by!  

First things first, 6 new sister missionaries arrived last Monday and they all stayed in our apartment!  Whew!  5 of them were from the Provo MTC ... my lovely Americans that didn’t speak any Spanish!  I absolutely loved it.  I remember my first night here and I was terrified.  It was really neat to be there for them, to talk to them in English, to help them feel better.  Hermana Valdez and I divided for about 20 minutes before we had to be home to give them a little feel for talking to people in the street.  Guess what ... I could do it!  I had three new Hermanas with me and we rocked it!  And guess what ... I was understanding people!  I realized that if I’m called to train in 6 weeks, I could do it.  I just love it and keep feeling more and more confident!

Sidenote .. I love it when the Spanish speaking missionaries speak English.  They’re learning too and I realize that even if I sound a little funny, people know what I’m saying!  But really, it’s the cutest thing.  Most of them only know certain phrases and they’ll randomly throw them in there!

Dad, I forgot to tell you last week when we were planning his baptism, we asked Juan Carlos who he wanted to baptize him.  He said, “tu papa” .. it was so sweet!  I told him my Dad would love to baptize him if he was here, but since that isn’t possible, we would have to go with his second choice.  I thought you would appreciate that!

Funny story of the week, this morning Hermana Valdez asked me if I remembered talking to her last night.  I told her uhhhhh no.  Then I immediately got super worried for what I said.  She starts cracking up and tells me that in the middle of the night, I sat up and said ¨Quiero ayudar a todos!¨ and afterward laid back down. But literally I was speaking Spanish in my sleep in the middle of the night and apparently I want to help everyone! HAHA!

We visited another Hermana in the ward this week and her son, Dante, is the cutest! He’s seriously hilarious. He was singing and playing with us today!  He kissed us both on the cheek before we left.

Also, I loved General Conference, even in Spanish!  Actually I really missed their voices.  I never realized just how much I loved the apostles and our prophet Thomas S. Monson.  I feel the Spirit so strongly just when I hear their voices.  David A. Bednar’s talk was a life changer.   Seriously, he is the man.  I love how much we can truly learn about the Atonement.  I also loved Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s talk. We have so much to be grateful for and this life is all about learning to dance in the rain!  I know that we can see the Lord´s hand in our lives every single day if we´re looking for it.  Also, Hermana Maria Dolores came to conference!  She’s 70 years old and came all on her own!

Remember Mom, like a week ago, when I said that everyone, especially the youth, should be studying Preach My Gospel!  And what did M. Russell Ballard say -- Everyone should be studying it!  I loved it. Y’all are going to learn so much!

I also just loved the focus on love and following the Savior’s example.  That’s what this whole life is about.  I love how many people said that this life is just a short moment.  It really hit me when they said that we will have an eternity to think about the decisions we made here.  This life is so short, don’t waste it!  It’s not worth it!  No sin is worth it.  We have to strive for that eternal perspective and literally prepare to meet God.  I just love it.  Let’s love people and be respectful and give them everything we have!

General Conference was great, but the highlight of my week was definitely singing with Hermana Ester.  She is the wife of Hermano Antonio.  She had a stroke about a year and a half ago and she can’t move anything.  She can’t talk, she can’t eat, and she’s been in bed for a year and a half.  She is so tiny, but she’s completely there mentally.  She can answer yes or no questions with her big toe. Her nurse told us all about her and it really touched my heart how much this lady loves Hermana Ester.  She told us that Antonio is pretty angry and doesn’t understand any of it.  She also told us that he never cries, not even when his son died.  He just gets a super determined, gruff face.  It’s crazy, he always acts so lighthearted with us, but it just shows that people have pain that we never know. We sang ¨How Great Thou Art¨ with her the first day and we couldn’t even finish the song because we were crying.  The Spirit was so strong. Heaven Father’s love is perfect.  Even when it feels like He’s forgotten us, He never has.  My goal in life is just to never be angry with my Heavenly Father. I don’t want to.  I just want to trust Him and willingly submit to all things.

We went singing with Hermana Ester another day.  I held her hand while we sang, and again, just the strongest Spirit came into the room.  Hermana Valdez and I sang so strongly!  I’m telling you, we’ve never sounded like that before.  It was really special for me and we both shared our testimonies of Christ after.  It was an experience in which I felt like I truly stood proxy for Christ.  I did what He would have done.  I just want so badly to help Antonio to strengthen His faith.  As we were kissing Ester goodbye and stroking her hair, we saw tears in her eyes.  I think she really does understand and feel the Spirit.  I just think of the day when they’ll be able to talk and catch up.  I just love them with my whole heart!

On Sunday, we went singing again, but this time the Contreras family came with us.  We were all a blubbering mess.  Hermana Ester understands, she really does.  After each song we bore testimony and asked her questions.  She knows she’s a special daughter of God and she wants her family forever.  I went to talk to her once and the words just spilled out.  They weren’t my words.  I told her that Heavenly Father knows that she worries about Antonio and the rest of her family.  He knows that she worries about what her condition is doing to them.  I promised her so strongly that we were going to Antonio, to teach him, and to help him to understand.  Both of them are so special!  I don’t think Ester ever thinks of herself, just her family.  All of her pain is related to her family.  Her nurse, Claudia, told her that things have been different, the beginning of a change in their home, since we started singing.  She’s starting to see a change in both of them.  I know that these people are so special and so prepared.

Heavenly Father truly does love each of his kids. He knows them, and everything in this life is for our benefit, we just have to choose how to respond.  If you have the truth, hold on to it as tight as you can!

Love you all!

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