Monday, July 28, 2014

Mexico Week 22 -- Listen, Listen to the Still Small Voice

To my best friends!

This week just flew by! Wow, can you believe that this week is Hermana Buttar’s last week of her training.  I feel like she just got here! The time really is starting to fly faster and faster. 

Well, we decided to buy my birthday cake a week early so that we would have time to eat it! There is a gentleman named Miguel and he is really super sweet. He owns a bakery here and his desserts are the best! We asked him if he could make a cake with Anna on it and he said it would be really hard but he would give it his best effort!  Ha! Ha! He showed us the picture he tried to copy from, and with frosting it is not bad at all! Put my name on it and everything! Nothing like a Frozen cake to celebrate coming out the teenage years! 

Speaking of Frozen, there’s a new truck driving around that plays – “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” - in Spanish and there’s a new Frozen themed circus in town. Just eating that up every day!

This week we had ward council Tuesday night and we were planning on leaving early because we had an appointment. Well in the middle of the meeting, I just had this feeling like we should stay. We called our appointment and switched it for the next day and then the meeting ended about 15 minutes later. We didn’t have a ton of time, but we decided to go visit Hermana Romera before we headed home for the night. She is the littlest old lady. She is pretty sick from diabetes and doesn’t see very well. She gets ready every Sunday, just in case somebody comes to pick her up to go to church. She just breaks my heart. She is so kind and wants to share the gospel with her kids, but they’re just not too interested. We arrived at her house and she’s all curled up on a mattress super sick. We sang her favorite hymns to her and as we started singing Secreta Oración, she started tearing up a ton and trying to sing with us. She just really needed a little love that night. 

I know sometimes it doesn’t seem to make sense, but I think the Lord rearranged our plans so that we could visit her. I think He needed somebody to sing to His daughter. I made a goal that night to always listen to the Spirit. I want to follow even the smallest promptings. 

 A couple of times this week we also followed up the Denogean family (our friends with the kittens). Their daughter Alexa, has a baptismal and their other daughter Paola, also accepted a date! She surprised us so much, but she truly has the desire to learn! Friday evening we visited them and her daughters weren’t home, but Veronica was there. Alexa really wanted to go to the Primary activity that night, but there wasn’t anyone in her family who could take her, nor Hermana Infante. We called another hermana who said she could walk with her. After we talked to the hermana, I just felt like we needed to go with her. We went with her and while they were setting the movie up, we started singing Primary hymns. I just loved it! 

For the activity, we watched the Testaments. It’s a pretty special movie to me! We were explaining what was happening and about the Book of Mormon and Christ and she was asking questions, and then we got to the end, when Jesus comes to the Americas. I always feel an incredible spirit during that part of the movie. I could never deny that there is a Christ and that He lives. I know that He loves us individually. Just looking at His face and watching Him bless and heal people, reminds me that He truly loves me and forgives me. I felt an incredible love that just filled me up. I just know that He loves me and understands me and continues to physically lift me up. He wants me to be happy. He sees me for my worth and potential. He knows I love Him. He knows I’m trying. He’s a real person.  So here I am a little misty eyed at the end of the movie and they flip the lights on. Two of the other hermanas in the Primary presidency had some wet eyes and they start teasing me and then Alexa asks why we’re all crying. I am just happy. Just happy to be here, happy to be with these people, happy to have these experiences! 

To wrap this letter up, I’ll tell y’all about our lesson with Carlos toward the end of this week. We talked a lot about prayer and his relationship with his Heavenly Father. He knows exactly what he needs to do. We got to the end of the lesson and starting talking about going to church. He tells us that he feels the Spirit. He told us that he felt in his heart that we were sincere and that the Lord was talking to him. Sadly this old fart didn’t go to church this week, but I know that if we’re persistent and that if he can feel the spirit more and more, we’ll turn some corners. I just love their family. I want their family to be eternal. I just see it all over his face that he’s looking for something and I think it is forgiveness. After the lesson, Mama Contreras gave me one of the biggest tightest hugs. I think she has just been waiting a long time for him and we just gotta help the family out. 

Oh and I also spoke in church this week! I made a rough outline of my talk, and then I started talking from the pulpit and to tell you the truth … I really don’t remember half of what I said. I guess that’s the Spirit right? I know that we need to develop attributes of Christ if we’re really going to help him with his work and be missionaries. Every member who has been baptized, promised to be a witness of the Lord and I’m pretty sure that means being brave, trusting in the Lord’s promises and opening our mouths! We are ALL missionaries! Let’s have faith in the Lord and give him everything we’ve got so that one day we can say - I gave 100%! I tried! I made an honest effort to support Him in all things! I loved Him with all my heart! I wanted to be found working in thy vineyard. We can do it! 

Love you!! 

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Tengo Fe

To my best friends in the whole world!

First things first … THANK YOU SO MUCH to all the ward and family members for my birthday treats!  We love the snacks and the kids just love all of their treats. Y’all are the best!

So lately I have been listening to a lot of Christmas music. Every once in a while we visit Esther (Antonio´s wife) and the last two times we sang Christmas hymns! I think I love it so much because one, it is just happy music; and two, it is so focused on Christ! Ahh, love it!  Needless to say, I think I’m always going to be the person that listens to Christmas music in July! 

We also had interviews with President Camarillo this week! He is literally the sweetest man. We talked a lot about the Atonement and how we can understand and apply it to our lives more. We talked about taking responsibility for all of our choices and making the most of this opportunity that the Lord has given us! He just really has a Spirit about him. He told me that Hermana Buttars’ Spanish is really good and he thanked me for being obedient as I helped her learn. He told me that he really trusts me a lot and gives me a lot of responsibility, even though I haven’t been out long. Wow! Now I just want to do everything in my power to never ever let him down! At the end of our interview I really felt like I should ask him for a blessing so I went for it. 

In my blessing, he blessed me with wisdom and a desire to study the Atonement more. He said that this study in the mission would bless and help my future spouse and kids. Wow! I am constantly thinking about my future family and now I can see why! I need to prepare so much so that I can be everything they need me to be. Something that really surprised me is that he said that I should give milk instead of meat to the kids that I teach .. that I should teach them line upon line. I was thinking that I truly haven’t taught that many kids, but maybe Heavenly Father has more in store for me! The kids here are truly so special to me. They are just so close to Christ! 

I was also encouraged to put complete confidence in the Lord. I think I still struggle sometimes to give Him everything. El Presidente gave me like a half hug after and I almost asked if that was allowed ;) He tells me: “Te quiero mucho Hermana Rawe”. He truly is an incredible President!

Hermana Buttars is the best. We had some real talk this week and I admire her so much. I feel like we both are changing a ton on the mission! We are just really firming up what’s important, what do we want for our futures? We talked about how so many people talk about missionaries that come home from their missions and then falling away.  We both have a fear of that, of just getting distracted when it’s not missionary work 24/7! We made a pact that we are going temple exploring in Utah every week and on the car rides recommitting each other to being good people every time! 

I had an epiphany this week!! We’ve started making these huge posterboards for families. We made one for the Reynaga family that says on top -  Tengo Fe en Jesucristo. Below it has the name of every single member of the family and we left some stickers. Every time we pass by, we’re going to see who has stickers and how they showed their faith. The kids LOVE it. Thanks to my package I got this week, we have sweet prizes too! I started thinking that we could do something like this for so many families depending on their needs. Some of them have trouble sharing the gospel, so we made ones that say -  Soy un Representante de Cristo. Every time they represent Christ and share the gospel ... sticker on the chart! I was just really loving this all week! We made one for Rosa Elía and her family too. First we watched a video about finding faith in Christ with the kids. Both Alexis and Nickole all snuggled up with Hermana Buttars and I. Not gonna lie, gave me major mommy fever. After the video, we talked about faith and how we can have it. All of their faces lit up when they saw the chart and the kids are so excited. I just love when you can see on people’s faces that they know that we care. 

We had two pretty special lessons with the Reynaga family this week. First, we taught the Law of Chastity with them.  We’ve been feeling that they need a refresher on some things and we taught it a little different. We started with the scripture in Corinthians that says that our bodies are temples. We asked the kids what temples are like. They start describing the temples and then Roxton says, “But, I drew on my hands on this morning, and I haven’t bathed in 3 days!”  Then he kind of does the classic Lexi head drop. I love this kid! These kids get it. They are so smart and they are learning so much about the gospel. They are reading the scriptures as a family and going to church. Even our teenager’s attitude is starting to change!  On Sunday we visited Hermano Pedro to see how he was doing with cigarettes. He asks us if we’re starting to see the fruits of our work in their home. Love this old fart to death. He tells us, “I don´t know if you noticed, but when we got to church, I went with JuanCarlos and Roxton and we sat on the other side.  I thought the girls were going to follow, but they went and sat with you two. They see something in you. Our home really is changing.” Wow! It’s so true. Their home is changing, they’re not perfect, but they’re improving. I couldn’t help but think back to when I was wondering why in the world do we come here?  They don’t want it!  The Lord testified to me to love them and stick it out and look at where we are. Ah, the Lord truly always has a plan. 

Now on to my other family members here, the Contreras and Flores families. We ate with the Contreras family on Saturday. Guess who was there to eat? Hermano Carlos and his son Fernando (who is also not a member).  We taught about how we can truly be cleansed from our sins. Wow! What an incredible lesson! I don’t know what it is, but I truly feel the spirit so strongly every time we teach Hermano Carlos. He talked about how he wants a clean slate, he just doesn’t feel like it’s possible, but he has this dream of his whole family being together after this life. My brain is about exploding at this time with the word baptism!  I talked about how there are things we have to do to be an eternal family, one of them being baptism. I invited them both and I don’t think I have ever extended a baptismal invitation with so much love in my life. Fernando and Carlos both said yes!! We talked about the preparation, about what it really means to work toward an eternal family. The night before I felt like their family poster should say -  Nuestra familia es eterna. Seriously!  We weren’t even planning to go there with the lesson and look where we ended up! Two hermanos preparing for baptism and a chart to mark when they make efforts to get there. I love this family. I love them almost like I love you guys.

We ate with the Flores family on Sunday because our food from the hermanas fell through and we decided I’m going to marry Angel (the Contreras son that’s on a mission right now so I can be in their family). Hermano JuanCarlos sticks his hand out and says, “Sister in Law!”  Ha! Ha! He and Blanca are literally Brad and Laura … so sarcastic, a little wild, but so committed to doing the right things. Entonces, guess I’m marrying a Mexican!

In all honesty, I got a little sad this week. It hit me that there’s a big chance I might be leaving in two weeks. I can’t believe almost another three months has passed by so fast. I love the people here and I think I might cry if I miss the baptism of Carlos and Fernando, but the Lord always has a plan right? I know that He takes care of us so much and I’m willing to go where He wants me to go. I’m willing to do what He wants me to do and I’m willing to be what He wants me to be. I love Him, more than I have ever loved Him in my entire life. I am committed to Him more than I ever have been. I just want to be someone that He’s proud of. I want to represent Him with every interaction. I feel so blessed to be here, to be with these people. I love my mission. 

Don’t worry, because I love you guys too, so I will come home at some time! Be good! Be examples! Share the gospel with everyone! Love you more than you know! 

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Dairy Queen and Sizzler!

BEST DAY EVER .. we found a Dairy Queen!!

We were so excited that we celebrated with Sizzler on PDay!  Best part is the frozen yogurt with the strawberries!

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mexico Week 21 -- I Will Go and Do

To my favorite people! Wow, this week just flew by! Ahh! I can´t believe it! 

WE BOUGHT MINION PIÑATAS. Hermana Butters hit 3 months and I hit 6! We haven’t broken them because they are too cute, but they are hanging up in our house! 

Look at how much the kittens are growing! They’ve gotten so big!! This is Veronica’s daughter, Alexa. She is nine and literally cracks me up. She is so confident and bright and just a smart girl. She starting talking to us about how so many families are separating and how God doesn’t like that. She talked about all of the fighting and kids that have parents that don’t love them. She just kept asking us how we can keep our families together. She literally about broke my heart. She loves to pray and loves to sing too! She is my testimony that kids get it. They understand the gospel and they are so close to Christ. We are having a family home evening with their whole family tomorrow! 

So, I had a rougher night this week. We got home just exhausted because we are working our tails off, and I just kind of felt discouraged. I felt like we we are praying and studying and doing what we needed to do but nothing was happening. I really want to be an instrument in the Lord’s hands, but I just felt like I wasn’t pulling it off. I took a hot shower, got a good cry in, prayed, and then just listened. The words - Fear not, I am with thee - came to my mind. Even though I was discouraged, I still felt the Spirit, I still felt like He was with me. I realized how brokenhearted He must feel every time that we are disobedient. He wants us, every one of us, and He loves us. I am starting to feel a part of this love! 

There was an article in the Liahona this month called “Becoming Perfect in Christ” by Elder Gerrit W. Gong.  I’m pretty sure he wrote it for me. He said, “We unsuccessfully try to control our circumstances and the people around us. We fret over weaknesses and mistakes. In fact, the harder we try, the further we may feel from the perfection we seek, but we can gratefully accept, as God´s sons and daughters, that we are His greatest handiwork, even though we are still a work in progress. As we understand our Savior´s freely given atoning love, we cease fearing that He may be a harsh, faultfinding judge.”

He goes on to talk about missionaries learning mission languages and adults looking for spouses and how picky we are. He also mentions that with perfectionism, we are pretty critical of others. I realized that I truly have this problem. Not so much with investigators, but with missionaries and members, I am kind of critical. I do try to plan everything and I usually focus on where I fell short during the day instead of celebrating the small successes. Sometimes, I do try to control everything instead of putting it all into His hands. I truly have a long way to go in my understanding of the Atonement. I also know that I lack patience. He asked us, “Do I define perfection and success by the doctrines of the Savior’s atoning love or by the world’s standards? Do I measure success or failure by the Holy Ghost confirming my righteous desires or by some worldly standard?”  I know that I need to trust the Savior more, to let go of my plans and expectations and put it all into His hands. I think He knows better than me!

This week we worked so much with Pedro Reynaga to help him stop smoking. We made a solid plan and we have been visiting him almost every day. The kids make great spies to tell us if he’s smoking or not!  I love my little abuelito. He tells me the other day - Hermana I have been thinking about you and I think you are going to leave soon. Flip, almost broke my heart! He then goes on to tell me what a hard character I have and how he would never want to be my kid. Ha! Ha! I read the end of Doctrine of Covenants 121 to him and told him that I really do love his family a ton, but I am also a stickler for the commandments because I want what’s best for him and his family. I want an eternal family for them and if we’re going to get there … Well, the Lord has standards and we need to follow them!  Not going to lie, might have hurt my feelings just a little bit, but I guess it is okay if my kids don’t like me. As long as we work with love and do all we can to be obedient, it all works out. 

We also visited the Contreras family this week.  Hermana Carlos listened for the first time in a long time. We entered their house and it started dumping rain! We were almost having to yell to share a message. We talked about obedience and I just felt my own testimony so strongly. I can still see it on Hermano Carlos’ face when he feels the Spirit and knows it is true. He just has that sliver of pride that gets in the way. After we got home that night, I just felt like we needed to visit him more. I have actually felt it for a little while now but I thought it was just me wanting to go back not the Spirit. I know he has the potential and I think we are going to go for another round. 

On a funnier note, we go to leave their house and it is literally dumping rain. They’re telling us to wait it out and there is water just flowing in the streets, but it’s 8:30 and we have to get home. Hermano JuanCarlos tells me he’s going to call the mission president and tell him we’re not leaving until the rain slows down!  I’m thinking, PLEASE NOOOOO!!  Ha! Ha! Armed with umbrellas, we head out! Some homies pulled over and asked where we were headed and “offered” us a ride!  We pulled the - no, gracias, buenas noches!  The streets were almost empty and I just start praying we can find a taxi.  We are literally crossing rivers in the streets, and of course, we are not wearing rainboots!  Well, Heavenly Father loves us and answers prayers, because we found a taxi and made it home on time. We called Mama Contreras to tell her we made it home and she was pretty grateful we called! 

Church was great yesterday! I love my ward here. I love my mission and I love the people. I decided that sacrament meeting is always going to be a priority in my life and for my family. We just need it every week. I also made myself some other promises. I am always going to be a missionary. I never want to be scared to open my mouth and share what I know with co-workers, neighbors, and everyone!  I promise to rescue less active members and befriend investigators of the missionaries. I will teach my kids to be confident in the message we share. I want to always be involved in the work of salvation. I am going to know the people in my future wards by name. 

Hermano Nefi Torrescano gave a talk about preparing for eternal marriage and I LOVED it. Every youth and young adult needed to hear this talk. Being in a relationship is preparation for marriage. If I am going to be in a relationship - after the mission, of course - it better be helping me work toward the temple and celestial kingdom. We have to love and respect ourselves first and then we can love and respect someone else. We have to understand who and whose we are. Our purpose in a relationship is to help each other achieve our eternal and divine potential. If a person doesn’t help me become who my Father in Heaven wants me to be, I can’t marry him. I think the most important thing to me is that my future spouse has a big heart, that he really loves people and our Heavenly Father. As Nefi talked about meeting his wife Bania and seeing the Spirit reflected in her, I just want to be like that … to reflect the light of Christ. 

I think an eternal marriage and eternal family are quite possibly the most important things to me. I want it really bad, but I’m also starting to understand that these are big, big, BIG decisions. Maybe it’s Heavenly Father’s plan for me to be a Sheri Dew or something! I can marry one of the 3 Nephites later on!  Ha! Ha! Quien sabe, but for now I think I’m just going to prepare as hard as I can so that one day I can be ready! 

Not going to lie, the New York pics do make me just a little bit sad, but I am so happy that our family is so close and that we’re best friends. I love y’all to the moon and back! 

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Mexico Week 20 -- Families Are Forever

To all of my favorite people!!  How are you are?  Happy and healthy por fin?  I am a little bummed about the New York trip but I hope that you miss me a little bit while you are there!  As long as you miss me, then it’s all okay!  HA! HA!  Y’all will have a blast! 

Another Hermana gave us strawberry flavored of my life!  I do not know how I am going to live without these when I come home!

This week was just a great one!  Being a missionary is literally the best. I love it with my whole heart.  My mission president wrote me something that just kind of hit me and really touched my heart.  He told me: “Hermana Rawe, I, as your mission president, and also the Lord, really trust in you a lot.”  I just thought, whoa, how many people are really depending on me to do this right!  I will be coming home exactly one year from yesterday.  Does that blow anyone else’s mind?  I was thinking a lot about the trust the Lord has put in me and what I can really do to be better, to make the best use possible of that trust. 

We had a lesson with Ysenia this week!  She is 27 years old and is married to an 18 year old.  They have a son, but they live in another city.  She is taking a class studying medicine.  She is only here for 3 months, and then in August she goes back home to her family.  She has about a year of meeting with missionaries and attending church regularly.  She is the sweetest thing.  She knows it’s all true and has the desire to be baptized, but she wants to get baptized with her husband because she wants to respect him and everything.  Problem is, right now he truly has no desire to be baptized.  We talked a lot about prayer and how we can truly talk to our Heavenly Father.  My companion told her she could see how strong her desire was to be baptized, which made her start to cry even harder.  We challenged her to pray to her Heavenly Father and counsel with Him, to ask His opinion.  She is someone so special to me.  She reminds me a lot of myself and I feel like when I teach her I am teaching myself!  I started thinking about my own marriage fears and Hermana Buttars and I left that lesson saying we would never get married.  I think it’s something we all have to overcome … these fears that we have. How can we help people, and ourselves, to overcome the fears we all have to develop stronger faith?

This week we had splits with the Sister Training Leaders!  I went with Hermana Escobar to work in Bugambilias.  She has a little more than a year in the mission and I think she is the definition of quiet dignity and confidence.  Before we left the house to work she tells me: “You can tell when a person is a dedicated missionary and I can see it in you.”  It was just such a good day working with her!  We came home, planned, and then just talked about the day.  She told me that she felt my sincerity when I talked and well other really nice things.  However, the thing that really caught my attention is when she said that my love for the Savior shows.  We started talking about how this work truly is for Him and all about Him.  We talked about sacrificing everything during this time.  She shared a scripture with me that is in Colossians 2:23.  It is way better in Spanish, but work with me!  It says, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.”  I need this in Spanish in my future house!  I am here for the Lord and everything that I do should be for Him.  It doesn´t matter what people think.  It matters what the Lord thinks and if our efforts are good enough for Him. 

Also, Emma’s WEDDING INVITATION showed up this week. How crazy is that? Love that girl to pieces and I hope that she is so, so happy! 

So the other day we were walking for years because nobody was home.  Well, we were walking and I saw the street sign Isla Tory.  I just had the thought, we need to visit the Moreno family.  We haven’t seen them for about a month, mostly because we have been busy and they told us they didn’t want it.  We decided to stop by anyway.  We taught the first part of the Plan of Salvation.  The face of Hermana Moreno literally kills me!  She eats it all up!  All of them agreed to read some scriptures in the Bible and the Book of Mormon.  They are just special and I think we need to stick with them a little while longer.  Maybe their dad’s Catholic heart will soften!  Hermana Moreno also offered to cut my hair!  Growing out an A-line cut, just not cute! 

Last little thing, LUPE WENT TO CHURCH, which is not a little thing, it is a HUGE thing!  And, she didn’t just go to church, she brought her whole family, including her less active husband.  We show up and guess who is sitting there - Hermana Gudelia, her mother-in-law who is also less active!  My heart was exploding and I think I had the biggest smile on my face!  Church is for families. This gospel is for families. It’s just a different experience when everyone is involved.  Total sidenote, but her husband looks like Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite ... en verdad! 

Well I love you all to the moon and back! I hope that you are all happy and well and thinking of your little missionary! Have a great week!

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