Saturday, January 1, 2011

Third and Fourth Quarter is Where the Magic Happens

December 27th 2010

Long time no talk! I was so happy to be able to call home on Christmas Day. Wow, was it the greatest Christmas present for me! It's difficult to describe, but transitioning from missionary mindset to family mindset was quite an adjustment for me. I dealt a little with "homesickness" Christmas day, but I figure out of 9 months of my entire mission, what better day out of the entire year than Christmas would it be ok to feel a little homesick. I'm so grateful I was able to talk to you guys and I hope that you were able to enjoy the conversation on your end as much, if not more, than I did on mine. I miss you guys. And I love you so very very much.

Ok, since we didn't have much time for me to update you with the work, here's the latest.

Right now we are working with some pretty great people. Agustin Reyes Lopez is one of them. He is the best friend of a recent convert in the branch. He speaks perfect English and Spanish- so our lessons are often times in Spanglish- where we will switch back and forth throughout the lesson. On Wednesday, we had zone conference, which was all centered on fulfilling our purpose as missionaries. We talked a lot about focusing on the doctrine of Christ with our investigators and teaching from the BOM- faith, repentance, baptism, gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end. Then later that evening we had an amazingly spirit filled lesson with Agustin. We read 3 Ne 27 with him, which talks about the gospel. To be honest, it would be nearly impossible to recap the entire lesson, but let's just say the spirit was definitely guiding us to say all that we needed to say. We were able to get some of Agustin's concerns out, and when we were talking about baptism- he said, "that's what I need". We proceeded to extend the invitation for him to be baptized, and to set a date for Jan. 22. He didn't say "no", per say, but he said he would pray about it. Then on Christmas day, he had us over for lunch which was Passoli, and then he came with us to our Branch President's house for Christmas dinner and spent a couple hours with us up there. Miracle of the week was that he came to church. He works a couple jobs right now, one is at the car wash and the other snow plowing. He was scheduled to work Sunday, and the only way he would have been able to come to church was if it rained that night. Well, we prayed for rain...and sure enough...we woke up Sunday morning and it had rained! We called Agustin to express our excitement and he was already dressed and going out the door on his way to church! So miracles do really happen!

This Christmas was a very special one for me this year, although I wasn't able to celebrate with all of you. On Christmas eve, we helped make tamales!! We had an amazing Christmas eve dinner with the Vazquez family, who are super solid recent converts in the branch. It was lots of fun and a very memorable time. Christmas day, I kind've already mentioned...but we opened our presents first thing Christmas morning, studied, got ready, called our families, had lunch with Agustin, then dinner with the President Condon and some other members from the branch, then proceeded to visit other people throughout the night. It was a fun day!

Other people we are working with. Carlos Herrera who I mentioned last week that came to church, was busy with family all this week. He doesn't have a phone so its been difficult to contact him, but hopefully we will be able to this week. Some of our other progressing investigators are the tres hermanos- Mateo, Gilberto, and Jorge. Mateo is the one who seems to be progressing the most, but he is loving the BOM and learning about the gospel. He has a light in his eyes that seems to be brighter every time we see him. All 3 of them are so great and they were so sweet to get us Christmas chocolates as a present when we stopped by to visit them on Christmas eve day. They're great.

Yesterday was a very interesting day for Sis. Hamaker and I. Sis. Naylor had a very bad migraine so she wasn't able to come out with us. So she stayed home with Sis. Mulloy (the member we live with) while we went out and worked. This meant, with limited miles left for the month on our car, not knowing the area at all, and having limited people we could visit considering most of our investigators are men.....well, it made for an interesting adventure full of laughs and a few moments of frustration and confusion. I have to laugh at it now, but driving around trying to contact people merely by looking at a huge map and not having a clue about where we're going or how to get there makes for some good entertainment. I guess it was a good preview into how Tuesday is going to be for Sis. Hammaker and I, because Sis. Naylor is going on exchanges. I don't know if I mentioned this before or not, but Sis. Naylor is the traveling sister for the East side of the mission -which is kind've like the ZL for the Sisters. Once a week she goes on 24 hr exchanges with the other Sisters in this part of the mission. It seems like a pretty hefty job, but if anyone could do it she most definitely can. Not to make any speculations at this time, but her theory is that one of the reasons we're serving together again is so I can take her spot as traveling sister when she leaves. Ah, that's scary - lol. I know that whatever President has in mind will be what the Lord needs, so for now I will just make the most with what is placed in front of me. I do love missionary work, and it has been a stretch for me at times....but I also know that when the Lord calls, He qualifies. Hence my very early experience on the mission of training a new missionary just my 2nd transfer out. That experience taught me a lot, and it forced me to grow and to become the missionary the Lord needed me to become. To this day, I am still becomming someone different. I can still feel Him molding me in His hands and at times the heat from the refiner's fire gets a little warm. It is a very humbling experience to be called to serve and to preach His gospel among His people. There is no better place I would rather be at this time then here, serving the amazing people of the WA Spokane Mission. I'm passed my half way point now, so it is onward and upward. Kind've like the 2nd half of an intense bball game. I always felt I played better in the 2nd half, so it's go time! I'm excited for what the future has instore and I'm striving to leave everything I have out here on the court :)Love you all so much!

Change is hard, but it allows us to grow

December 20th 2010

Wow, can you believe Chirstmas is in just 5 days?! I am so very excited to talk to all of you on Christmas morning. As of right now,I'm planning to call you around 11am (10am my time- after our studies)We justreceived permission that we'll be able to call from our mission cellphones, but we will only be able to talk for 40 min. I'm guessing they want us to call from our mission phones so they can monitor the timeon the phone calls made. So, yah it wont be super long, but it will be so good to hear all of your voices and to get to talk to you! ThisChristmas has been a very special one for me so far this year. It hasbeen such a blessing for me to be in the service of God and to testifyof our Savior especially around this time of year when we celebratehis birth.

This week has been a very interesting week for me, but it has been good overall. First of all, my companions are AMAZING! I am loving being in a trio, there is never a dull moment. We are having a lot of fun together and working hard :) It is pretty cool to be serving with Sister Naylor again and our other compie Sis. Hamaker is just the sweetest thing in the world. Sis. Hamaker is from Houston, TX and still waiting for her visa to Brazil. She's been out in the field justover a month and has been serving just English until this transfer.This was her first week speaking Spanish and already she is able to speak it nearly perfect. Not fluent of course, but she is way diligentat studying the language and she speaks it pretty darn good. Way better than I could at that point on my mission. She has a strong testimony and is alot of fun to be around, it will be sad when she gets her visa and has to leave us.

On another note, the Spokane Valley is WAY different than Wenatchee. I think one of the biggest adjustments for me this last week is that we are teaching practically ALL single men ages 20-40ish. Its one of the reasons why we're in a trio, cuz otherwise missionary work would benearly impossible to do around here. Having a 3rd companion allows for us to go into homes we otherwise would not be able to. The first lesson we had my first night here, was kind've strange for me....butI'm getting used to it...I think? So, when the time comes that Sis.Hamaker does get her visa, Sis. Naylor and I are going to have to get pretty creative on who we can teach, when and how we can teach them.

To be honest, it hasn't been the easiest of adjustments for me coming to this area. Everything is so different and I definitely feel it is allowing me to be streched so that I can grow. If it weren't for myamazing companions, I think the adjustment would be quite a bitharder. It is different going from the lead/senior companion to notreally knowing anyone or anything again. Of course, its nothing like the very first week in the mission field, for I have 9 months experience now, but its just different... For Sis. Naylor its been an adjustment as well because she too is used to leading (considering she has trained 4 times and has been the traveling sister for the lastcouple months). Her and I both are kind've used to just "doing it all", as in being the main one in teaching and contacting and what not. So now we are just trying to find a balance that works best for us, considering we are on a much more even playing ground. Change is sometimes hard, but I know that I am supposed to be here. I have no idea what the next 5 weeks have instore, but I can sense that some miracles are definitely around the corner.

People we are working with. Well there is this way cool guy, Carlos,who is from Cuba. His accent is super hard to understand, but he has amazing potential. He's been on date for baptism in the past but felloff because he didn't come to church. So this last week, we had a waygood lesson with him where the spirit was strong. I could see itworking on him throughout the lesson and that he was recogizing why heneeds to come to church and commit that time to God. And sure enough,our prayers were answered when he showed up to church yesterday! Yay!So, we're hoping that he is willing to make that a habit and that wewill be able to see him enter the waters of baptism in the coming 5weeks. He has a lot of potential and its so refreshing to have someonecome to church again. It had been a long while since anybody inWenatchee had made it to church. And as you might guess family, churchattendance is the highest correlation for baptisms. We aren't here tojust baptize people. We are here to invite them to come unto Christthrough baptism, which is their personal commitment to God that theywill serve him and keep His commandments, and endure to the end.

Let's see what else. Well I love this work, despite thechallenges that come. I am so incredibly grateful to be serving amission. I have never felt so incredibly close to the spirit in all mylife. My testimony is strengthened daily. I love this work and I lovethe people that I have the opportunity to serve. I know that I am a disciple of Christ and truly there is no other place that I wouldrather be, than in the service of Him who has made me the person I am today. Through this work, He has been refining me and I have felt the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost take effect into my own life in immeasurable amounts. I'm a better person for having come on a mission and I know that the Lord's blessings will continue to pour out upon each of us as we remain true and faithful to our covenants we havemade with Him.

Remember each of you is a beloved child of God. He loves you. I know He loves you and I know that He will always be there for us no matterwhat! The church is true! Hope you have a great week getting prepped for Christmas.

A Bitter Sweet Goodbye

December 13th 2010

Well if you all didn't already guess by the title, we receive transfer calls last night and I am leaving Wenatchee! Crazy the emotional rollercoaster that I have felt over the last 24 hours. I hardly slept last night, due to my mind just would not slow down, but I'm excited for what the future has in store. So be prepared for your jaws to drop because mine sure did when I heard the news. SO I am being transferred to Spokane Valley- all Spanish speaking- and will be serving with......... Sister Naylor again!!! Can you believe it?! Yah, me either...but how cool is that! We actually will be serving in a trio together. Another Sister who is waiting for her visa, I believe her name is Sis. Hamiker...but I'm not 100%. Sis. Naylor wasn't sure either. It is her 2nd transfer in the field since the MTC so Sis. Naylor and I will kind've be 2nd training together. Crazy right! Oh my goodness I'm stoked, but now its the actually leaving part I'm struggling to fully embrace. As mentioned in my email home last week, I felt that a change was coming soon. And it feels right, it feels like its time and it truly does feel like everything has happened in the Lord's due time. Some are taking it harder than others, I had a very sad conversation on the phone with Jakki just a little bit ago and she was bawling on the phone. That's hard. Also, there are others who are taking it hard as well, but trying to put up a good smile and wishing me all the best- like Maggie. Maggie gave me this beautiful locket that says "peace be with you" on it, and while putting it on today, it almost made me cry. I LOVE the people here! I have never felt so much love for anyone in my entire life. As I've said in the past, my heart will always be here! I have grown so incredibly close to the people we are teaching and to the members of the Mission Ridge ward. For many of them though, it is not quite a goodbye for truly feels more like a "see you later" and for sure we will keep in touch. I feel so apart of this ward, and so many of these wonderful people have truly touched my life forever. Not enough words could be typed in this email, to adequately describe my love and appreciation for the people here in Wenatchee. It truly is a bitter sweet goodbye for me. It isn't easy to leave, but I know that where I'm going next is where the Lord needs me to be. There are specific people that I'm meant to find and meant to bring the gospel to. Every thing happens for a reason; and I believe there are no coincidences in Heavenly Father's perfect plan. I surely will "trust and not be afraid, lean not unto my own understanding, in all my ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct my path".

So my new address is as follows. Remember if ever in doubt you can always send to the mission office who will forward it on to me.15418 E. 24th St.Veradale, WA 99037

As for Sis. Blain, she will be staying in Wenatchee and serving with Sis. Kakuska who came out the same time as Sis. Olsen and Perez. I have learned a lot while serving with Sis. Blain. I call her my "just do it" companion because she just "does" without ever being asked. She is a fantastic missionary and it has been such a blessing for me to be able to watch her confidence in the Lord grow and to see her improve in so many ways over the last 6 weeks. We've had some fun together and I'm excited for her to be able to stay in Wenatchee and to continue working with all the amazing people we are working with right now. She is just fantastic! Also in other news, Sis. Perez is going to be second training this transfer the Sister who Sis. Naylor just first trained. SO that is pretty cool. I love transfer days because I get to call all my companions on the phone and reminisce for a little bit, because it is against the rules on any other occassion. One thing that will be different this coming transfer is I now will be serving on the East side of the Mission, and away from almost all the Spanish missionaries. From what I hear, it is quite different, but missionary work all the same. I'm excited for what the next 6 weeks has in store! OH and I am so excited to be serving with Sister Naylor again! And this time around, I will actually be able to speak the language!! Yay! It is going to be a much different experience than our first transfer together, but it will be amazing still. Sis. Naylor and I have a very close friendship and I truly admire her in so many ways. It's going to be so much fun!

Well, I'm pretty much packed now...I've been packing all morning. Wow 7 months of stuff is alot. We have a few errands to run, and I have SO many people I need to say goodbye to and then it's back to work tonight at 6. We are in a trio for 2 days with one of the other sisters from the Castlerock ward, who's companion went home yesterday because she finished her mission. So now we are working both areas together, and we've got lots to do.