Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Day

Hermana Maughan

Monday, December 17, 2012

A little like 007.

Tender Traumatic Tough & Terrific Times of Pasadena
1. Hna Maughan being confused when a man from the "hood" asked her the question, "How you gonna teach me how to pray?"
2. Our 10 min prayer with an investigator who kept asking God to help us see things as cup half full instead of half empty
3. A Contact with a man named Victor. His family screamed, "Tell them we're catholic." & "Your food's getting cold!" He yelled back, "It's okay, it's a salad!"
4. Elder Conan's Nesquik straw glasses.
5. Elder Mallard opening up a bank account at a small Texas bank just so he could cash a check.
6. Elder Conan's infamous, "Oooooooooohhhh"
7. Thanksgiving when we were at a member's home and one of the young boys yelled to his little brother, "You're not allowed to play because you farted!"
8. Eating two thanksgiving meals in one day
9. Giving Elder Mallard a Jedi-looking bath robe for his birthday
10. Meeting the sisters of our relief society President and dubbing them the Mexican Golden Girls.
11. Veronica's story about how she told someone who was trying to make her feel bad, "Yo siempre he sido importante a Dios." "I've always been important to God."
12. Asking the wrong person to baptize Veronica ooops! But then, it wasn't really the wrong person.
13. Being chased by a drunk men up the Zone Leaders' stairs.
14. Hna Maughan on the brink of being attacked by a dog.
15. The Man who got up in our face and screamed at us saying to remember his face because we'd see him in Hell.
16. The time I fell off my bike and the whole world knew. ( literally still hearing the stories from random passerbys)
17. Hna Perales telling her grandson's wife, "I want you to talke to these girls, because JESUS IS COMING!"
18. Veronica putting on her baptismal jumpsuit and wearing her red high heels and saying, "Hnas I look ridiculous!"
19. The Pasadena Fire department going through the streets yesterday with the fire truck and giving out candy canes to everyone.
20. The Time when Elder Conan was proud of his big sister (me) getting a training call.
21. The ONE time the Zone Leaders called us to tell us we did a great job one week.
22. When Elder Ho Ching called us to tell us the mailman had given him a package for us, when really it was just a package he had made for us filled with candies.
23. Opening our door and finding Elder Ho Ching & Elder Weeks with plates of cookies and cupcakes and rootbeer.
24. When Hna Maughan had to fill the Elder's bike tires with air.
25. All those planned "Heart to Hearts" with Elders Ho Ching and Weeks that never happened.
26. Teaching Roberto in the pouring rain.
27. Our two hour convo with the ZLs on Thanksgiving day
28. Playing board games with our district on Thanksiving day for h o u r s.
29. being in the DIABETES DISTRICT!
30. Elder Mallard's Golden Egg helmet.
31. When Elders Conan & Mallard played a trick on us by making us think we had passed the appt we were dropping them off at.
32. "I appreciate you Hnas." -Elder Conan
33. The time we spoke the a returned missionary named, "Elder Mcallister" on the phone.
34. Norma: "I read y'all" us: "What'd you read?" Norma: "Revelations. I was watching the movie 2012..."
35. Juanita's dogs who were tied together by the collar. One was dragging the other one everywhere.
36. Hna Maughan's Gecko check on the car.
37. Being hit on by everyone at Discount Tires
38. The exchange from you. know. where.
39. Having to ask members for rolls of toilet paper.
40. Mini Ho Ching (Hna Hernandez' grandson) crying and stuttering through his tears saying, "B..b...buh. Bye Guys. S...s..sss. See you later."
41. Win (Our mailman) making personal package deliveries to us.
   I felt a little like a spy yesterday. Last night after we came out of a really great lesson, we got into the car and saw we had 3 voicemails. The first one was from President Crawford. When I heard his voice I screamed a little. "Sister Flores, this is President Crawford, give me a call back when you can..."
   Let me give you a rundown of how transfers work in the Texas Houston East Mission. Friday night, you get a phone call if your area is being closed. Saturday night, you find out if you're being transferred (I'm staying in Pasadena, but Hna Maughan is going home and Hna Canova is leaving to another area). Sunday night, you get leadership calls. Considering I'm an Hermana, and the only leadership call I can get is training. But here's the thing, usually an Hermana trains until she is past her 6th transfer (halfway point) in the mission. So that's why I screamed.
   I'm training! I was definitely NOT NOT NOT expecting that. I called back Pres Crawford and he said, "Sister Flores. I have an assignment for you. I need you to train a new Hermana. Can you do that?" I told President I could & I would. "Sister Flores. You'll need to be at a training meeting in Kingwood at 9:00, can you do that?"
   The whole thing reminded me of the scene in the Incredibles where Mr. Incredible is listening to the self-destructing envelope in his office. The whole conversation lasted about 3 min. & here I am. Really anxious about traning, not nervous, but not confident. Just anxious. I couldn't sleep last night. The phrase, "I'm training" just kept running through my head. So amigos, I will be in Pasadena, TX for at least the next 12 weeks. & you know what, Heavenly Father has got my back, because just in this week we found four solid people to teach. & most of them are English Speaking. :) Tender Mercies from the Lord.
   This week was also Christmas conference, where the whole mission came together and had a Christmas feast, heard merry music, and heard about what we need to work on to make 2013 an even better year for the mission. This week, was one of the best weeks I've had on the mission. It was so so so 

Sunday, December 9, 2012


We had our first snow day this week. Not snow day in the literal sense, but in the sense that Hna. Maughan was really sick this week and so we stayed inside Tuesday. I don't feel guilty about saying that it was super great to have a down day, not super great circumstances but still. I got to organizing our area book, I made a ward positions list, zone directory, and updated teaching records. I also may or may not have made my planners for the next two transfers, and worked with Hna. Canova to plan the skit we're in charge of for the ward Christmas Party this Friday. So while we were inside, we were still productive! & Maritza (she's the ward member who fellowshipped Veronica) brought us dinner: breaded chicken, colselaw, rice, and potato salad. We LOVE her.
There are only two weeks left in this transfer. In two weeks time, there is only one certain thing Hna. Maughan is going home, the up in the air part is who will be staying in Pasadena to take over the area, Hna. Canova, Me, or the both of us. We were speculating one car ride this week and wrote on a paper our "transferology" predictions. We wrote down the names of all the Hna Areas in the mission, along with the names of all the Hnas serving and made our predictions about who's getting transferred where. It was so great. I'll send a picture next week. Hna. Canova thinks she's staying, Hna. Maughan thinks I'm staying and training, Hna. Flores, well I'm not quite sure, but for the sake of transferology, I put I was staying.
As silly and as MASH-like (anyone remember that game from their elem school days?) as it was. Trasferology really helped me put things into perspective. 1. My trainer is leaving, 2. I possibly have only two weeks left in the area. I started compiling a list of mission dreams, ex. I really really really want to serve in Louisiana, but there currently isn't an Hna area out there. I also reflected on what can I do to leave my area better than I found it. Well, for one thing, our companionship brought a new member to the area! I want to clean out the area book as much as I can, and ultimately I want to leave behind for this ward a well-thought-out well-put-together ward mission plan. So in district meeting we brainstormed intitiatives and activities that the ward can do to better help the missionary work progress. Remember my letter about legacies, well in a cheeseball way I was thinking, what do I want our companionship's legacy to be. WMP=not words per minute. Ward Mission Plan.
I love my area, even with all of it's challenges. So many of the missionaries (mostly all) serving in this area have said that this has been thee toughest area in their mission. If that's the case, it all goes uphill from here! I love this area dearly though, I've fallen in love with the ward members and their quirks, and with all Pasadena has to offer, even stinky vince bayou. I love you all!
P.s. A little bird emailed me & told me that congrats are due for T.Betti on her mission call to the Texas McAllen Mission.
The South welcomes you! :) I'm so happy and proud of that girl!
Con todo mi amor,
La Hnita Flores

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Choose to be :]

One day this week as I was running in the morning, I woke up feeling guilty. I kept replaying things and thought, I could have done that better, I haven't been doing enough of this, I have way too many things that I need to be working on. & then out of the blue this thought came to my mind: "Today, I'm going to choose to be happy." My run changed completely, and that simple decision in the morning really influenced how the rest of my day went.
   Sure, my area has no active members of the church, sure our teaching pool is slim to nothing, sure nobody wants to keep commitments, but I'm still going to be happy. I went to work. I organized (color coded & alphabetized) our area book and cleaned up some of the old teaching records, read a good amount of pages in Preach My Gospel and the difference was drastic.
   This week I've been thinking about happiness, about the qualities of happy people. As I was studying happiness in the scriptures the other day, I came across this scripture in Mosiah 2:41
   "And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed an happy state of thos ethat keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in a ll things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the the end they are received into heaven, that therreby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it."
   Choosing to be happy goes hand in hand with choosing to live the commandments. It's as simple as that. When we don't follow the commandments, the choice apperas less black and white. We start setting up excuses and painting a lot more greys into the picture. I want people to describe me by saying, "That girl has sunshine flowing through her veins," and I know the only way that's going to happen, is if I keep living the commandments.
   Instant gratification plays a lot into our daily decisions. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, it's kind of like a nice banquet buffet. The food looks so delicious at the beginning, but as you begin to stuff yourself silly, you come to regret how much you've eaten.
   On Thanksgiving Hermana Maughan said, "We're a peculiar people. We're 21-23 year olds who talk about scriptures, think of ways we can help others, and play board games to have a good time." Isn't it strage how that's considered, weird and peculiar when that should really be the norm.
   My level of happiness hit an all time high this weekend. Why, because Victoria who shall now be known as Veronica (her real name), was baptized. It was the greatest feeling in the world. It was a feeling of supreme happiness for another person. We have been with Veronica since day one. I pointed out to Hermana Canova that Veronica (we sometimes also call her V.Gar) was baptized exactly two months after we had met her.
   The baptismal program was so spiritual. All the women that had accompanied us on lessons participated in the program, Elder Conan and I sang the musical number (Te Hallare Mi Amigo, I'll Go & Find You My Friend), and while Veronica changed we watched clips from Joy to The World. I wish you all could have been there to feel the love that was present in the room. The happiness I felt warmed my heart, and if I don't have the opportunity to see another person baptized, I'll be fine, because they joy I felt yesterday was incredible.

Con Todo mi Amor,
La Hermanita Flores

La Hermanita Flores

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

 I Maybe this is a little bit Nerdy, but I make lists of what to write about each week. Actually they're more like sentences that I write at the end of each day capstoning all I want to tell you. First things first, this kid got approval to drive! Texas roads are a little bit psycho they curve completely, break off into one way streets then come back together again, it's a little bit loco driving. Think the Roger Rabbit ride in toon town mixed with Mr. Toad's wild ride. (Can you tell that I'm having Disneyland withdrawals?) Speaking of Disneyland, the best way for me to describe the weather right now is, think of the coldest night you've ever spent at Disneyland, now add some hefty gusts of cold wet air to that and you have my night bike rides in Texas. Oh, but actually subtract the happy music, churro stands, and mouse ears. :]
   We had zone conference this week. Translation: We had a big four hour meeting with all the missionaries in the Pasadena, Broadway, and Baytown areas with President Crawford. There was a huge push this zone conference, as there as been recently in the mission, for member involvement. Sis. Crawford presented us with a new way to go about missionary work with the ward. *Papa, maybe you can even bring this idea to our ward council? Sis. Crawford told us to select strong, solid families in the ward and invite them to think about two families they would love to join the church or be blessed by the message of the restoration. We then as missionaries are to encourage those member families to fellowship the families they've selected. Fellowshiping can be anything from inviting that family over to dinner, making them a plate of cookies, striking up a conversation while watering the plants, you name it. Sometimes sharing the gospel with people can be intimidating, there's all these thoughts of, "what do I say?" "How do I begin?" "What if they're offended?" Balderdash. Being a friend is how it begins. If we just start forming a friendship, conversations about the gospel will flow naturally. & usually, you won't even have to be the one to bring it up.
   This week was a little rough. Found out this week, that the area I'm in is one of the hardest in the mission, but since I'm new here, I don't know any different. I love it so much though I can just feel the possibilities all around me. Well, we had miracles this week. Mini miracles, but marvelous nonetheless.
   The best miracle happened this Friday-Saturday. Friday, we were on exchanges, Hermana Maughan left Hermana Canova and I, and Sister Wenzel came over from LaPorte. So, three newbies only 1.5 Spanish speaking. :) We got dropped by one of our investigators on Friday so just as we were entering the home of a less active member I felt our cell phone buzz. I looked down and saw that an (801) number was calling us. 801 as in a Utah area code. My first thought was it's probably a returned missionary who's trying to get in contact with someone in the area. So I answered it, and a man said, "Bueno. I'm calling from Salt Lake. I'm looking for a Sis. Harry and a sister from Hawaii. They might not be serving there anymore. Well, I was in Pasadena last week, and my cousin and I were talking about the church and she told me she had met with the missionaries before. I told her I was a member of the church, and I bore my testimony to her, and she's eager to meet with the missionaries again." MIRACLE. MIRACLE. MIRACLE. Yes, that's three times. Does that ever happen? Probably not. He said he would call us back with her information later.
   Fast forward to Saturday when things were getting frusturating, tears were shed (not on my part), and as we were sitting in the car the thought came, "Call the 801 number back. So I did, I called the man back got his cousin's address and we drove off to see her. The address was on a street Hermana Maughan had knocked before but on the East side of the street. We weren't initially welcomed in, but when I mentioned that we had been contacted by the woman's cousin, we were let in right away. We met Josefina (aforementioned cousin). She's going through a rough patch right now, her father has been diagnosed with cancer, and she has a brand new baby. She said she was looking for some spiritual guidance in her life, and was willing to listen to what we had to say. She talked about how much of a sweetheart her cousin was, how he was such a really good guy. He had flown all the way from Salt Lake just to be with the family and see his uncle (her father) in the hospital. We're so excited to teach her, she really was such a blessing.
   If I could tell you all the miracles that have happened this week, this letter would be triple the size it is now. I love how much the mission has helped me to see our Heavenly Father's involvement in every aspect of our lives. He loves us unconditionally with an eternal perspective in mind. He's the best ever.
I love you all!
Con todo mi amor,
La Hermanita Flores

p.p.s. Litle burst of happiness for the week
I never expect mail. Mail's just not that big of a deal for me. Not so for Hermana Maughan, she's a big mail lover. My philosophy is, "if you don't expect it, the mail will come." & It's kind of true, I think I get the most mail in our companionship (p.s. thanks for that!) Well, I explained this philosophy to Hermana Maughan, she has kind of semi tried it. Last Pday we went to Panda Express for lunch, and I was blessed with the following fortune cookie: "A Letter of great importance may reach you any day now."
I laughed so hard.
Hermana Maughan, not so much. :)
Ironic, but SO funny.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tops & Bottoms

Lessons Learned

I'm kind of really jealous that Daniela came over for Sunday dinner. Good thing though, that yesterday we had dinner with a family who's cooking is almost exactly like Mom's. So bueno. I thought I had lost my hymn book at the beginning of the week. I couldn't find it anywhere and I was a little frustrated because I couldn't just hop in our car and look for it. Don't worry though, I said a countless number of prayers, I even got creative with my prayers and one night said, "Heavenly Father, maybe you can just give me a dream to show me where it is." A hymnbook isn't even a huge deal, but still, it bugged me. On Tuesday night we had an appointment planned at the church, and while we were waiting I searched the entire chapel for it. Somehow, that made things better I just felt calmer, and as we pulled up to our next appointment Hermana Canova (who's our designated cell phone person) smiled and read aloud a text that said, "Did one of you leave a hymnbook here?" The greatest rush of relief came over me, and I am happy to say my hymnbook is safe and sound with me.
   This week was tough, we had a goal of six lessons with a member of the church present and every single lesson that we had planned fell through. We're struggling in our search for solid investigators, more like progressing investigators. This week was a learning week (but isn't every week?). Something I saw this week was just how much stronger families who are united in the gospel are. We visited several homes where only one parent is a member or everyone is practically inactive, it was just hard to see. There's no way really as missionaries for us to show investigators just how much the gospel can bless lives, ultimately I guess the best examples of that are the members themselves. We read Mosiah 27 with a number of less actives and part member families with a special focus on verse 14 to try and provide hope and bear our testimonies that the Lord is mindful of us, mindful of our desires, mindful of our prayers. 
   Have no fear though, Victoria is doing SO great. This week as we taught her she actually asked if she could move her baptismal date up to this Sunday, so we're going to be working hard this week for that one. Victoria noticed just how much of a difference it makes in her life when she reads the Book of Mormon as opposed to not reading it. We came over for a lesson one day this week and she had read for an hour. She started talking about a chapter in Alma and I whispered to Hermana Maughan, "did you leave her that chapter to read?" Nope. Turns out, Victoria looked at the GEE in the back of the Spanish scriptures looked up "repentace" and read the chapter on her own. She loves church, she loves learning about the gospel, and we love seeing the change the gospel has made in her life. We're learning from her really.
  Next on the learning line, we went to Mi Tienda after district meeting and while I was perusing the tres leches slices of cake, I started a conversation with a man and his wife. I'm a little more approachable I've found that anyone else in my district just because my skin isn't as pale. BUT, I could have kicked myself, I didn't have pass along cards on me. I was SO mad at myself. I'll be repenting on that one for a while, that's my new goal.
   Last bit, of learning. I Hermana Lauren Marie Flores had to translate two talks in sacrament meeting yesterday. I was completely caught off guard and the first talk, not the easiest to translate especially since it was all about comparing and contrasting the Holy Ghost to wireless communication devices. Ask me how many times I've talked about that in Spanish? Zero. The high councilman who spoke came out to the foyer before sacrament where we were all waiting and he said, "Elders, Sisters, who's got the better Spanish and wants to translate for me?" Of course all heads turned to me, of course the brown girl gets volunteered. It's okay, it was a learning opportunity, and I definitely had divine help. It actually turned out to be kind of...fun. Maybe there will be more of that in the future. I miss you all!

Con todo mi amor, 
La Hermanita Flores

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Pasadena for six more weeks.

This kind of seems like the longest week. Not because it was full of horrible things, but because SO much happened this week. I started my week in a different area. I went on exchanges in South Houston! It was so fun to just leave my area and explore a different part of the mission. & the best thing was that my companion was Hermana Bigelow who I just so happen to have known before the mission. Hermana Bigelow was my roommate from Freshman year, Katie Neff's, best friend from high school. Hermana Bigelow and I spent the entire day walking, our goal was to talk to EVERY single person we saw on the streets. On our walk we talked about how crazy it was that we were in the same mission. Who would have thought four years ago when we were both just starting college that we would end up roaming the streets of South Houston together and sharing with people the most important message of their lives? Just to give you a quick rundown on my Mon-Tuesday We: left the mission boundaries for a dentist appointment, found a coffin for sale, ate pizza, learned to crack and identify pecans while contacting a woman, tried Whataburger, found a dead butterfly on the sidewalk, found a pair of lost keys (& then used that as a way to contact someone...sneaky), taught a lesson on the plan of salvation, had some super great Mexican food, and walked so much the soles of our feet were sore for the next day. It was such a great two days and I can't wait till I get the chance to actually serve with her!
   In other news, I'm oficially staying in Pasadena for another six weeks. I survived transfer calls. Normally, a new missionary stays with their trainer for 12 weeks, but since I'm fluent in Spanish and I was in a trio, my chances of being transferred were really 50/50. There was actually a really good chance that I was going to be switched to an English area because there's not enough English sisters. But, alas I'm still here and I'm so happy. I love my companions, and this means that I get to be in Pasadena for Victoria's baptism. No one in our entire zone is getting transferred with the exception of Elder Facer ( who was in our district, but was a zone leader and has been called to be Assistant to the Mission President).
   This week we really focused on finding through all methods possible, we went through and looked at teaching records of people who have previously been taught by the missionaries, we went knocking, we've been asking for referrals, and we've been visiting less actives. We were really excited that two of our less actives who we had been trying desperately to have a lesson with showed up at church this Sunday. & that was a miracle considering it was pouring pouring rain (I'm definitely going to need to buy rainboots). We are going to continue to work hard, especially with less actives. If anything, my mission has given me the desire to NEVER ever miss a month of visiting teaching again. Seriously.
I love you all.
Sorry this was an all over the place letter.
Con todo mi amor,
la hermanita flores

                                                 My healthier purchases for the week.
Coffin for sale, only in Texas.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

District 11

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

This week was a big dose of "what-can-I-be-doing-better?" The answer came in sprinkled thoughts through out the week.
Sprinkle #1 Word of Wisdom.
Have you ever noticed that Word of Wisdom lessons are a big pat on the back sometimes? You know, it's like "we don't drink alcoholic beverages, we don't smoke, we don't do drugs, we don't drink coffee. Yay for us!" Ever feel like we kind of just skim over/ignore those other verses. I'm talking about D&C 89:10-13. We taught Victoria on the word of wisdom and while studying over D&C 89 I kind of realized that I'm not exactly living up the these verses. I'm a big salty food afficionado and I also have developed a recent love of fruit snacks. Number of real fruits I've consumed this week: 2 ( a peach and a banana). And to top things off, we had sister's training with President and Sister Crawford where we talked ALL about how we should be eating real food, not processed sugary crap. I have a really embarrassing picture of our shopping cart last pday. Don't worry, repenting of it this week. This is not to say that I'm turning vegetarian, but better believe I'm going to lay off the processed food for a bit. Give healthy a try, especially since we bike ride a good amount of miles during the week. The way I see things, God created and gave us these bodies, so I'm pretty sure he knows what's best for them. :]
Sprinkle #2 Charity mixed with Spanish.
Remember how I'm in a trio. My training is somehow training TWO newbies. Well, It's hard to balance in a trio, especially when lessons are concerned. Especially when two of us know Spanish really good. I did a little reflecting this past week, and realized how selfish I was being. For a majority of the lesson we taught, Hrm Maughan and I were teaching and while my Spanish has GREATLY improved, this hasn't been the case all around in our companionship. I was really only focusing on myself up to this point. I was very much in a , "how can I be a better teacher." Two weeks ago we had exchanges with an English sister. Hermana Maughan left us and Sister Cochran joined us, this made spanish contacts and lessons super interesting. I taught, I contacted, I small talked, and all the while I thought, "okay, now I see what I can improve on, what teaching skills I need to learn." Do you notice how many "I's" there were in there? Cause I sure did and it kind of made me sick. I took a huge step back and realized that our companionship isn't made of individuals, we're a unit. We're in this whole teaching thing together. Sure, we're all at different levels, but we've also been put together to help each other out. It was a big "ah-hah" moment for me.
Sprinkle #3 An attitude check.
Ask me if I like riding bikes in a skirt. Negative. Especially since my biggest fear in life is falling and I've already scraped up my knee in the pouring rain, while I was sick real good. So, let's just say I'm not always super pumped when we get on bikes. It takes me a while to actually get into the groove. It's not that I don't love bike riding, it's the whole wearing stiff clothes and sweating part of it I could do without. I read a talk this Sunday morning though all about being a consecrated missionary. & I realized ( more like re-realized) that a mission puts us out of our comfort zone, bike riding in skirts included. So, I accepted this as a challenge. Will I ever love bike riding in skirts, negs. BUT, I can realize that it's just a means to the end. A means to talking to people about something that has blessed my life greatly, and can bless the life of others.
I love you all. I promise I LOVE the mission.
oh & p.s. I'm not allowed to email amigos. Sorry, I can receive emails, but I can't write anyone else back but my family. Mission rules. BUT, you can email me, and include an address where I can write you. & I promise I will.
te amos all around,
La Hermanita Flores

Friday, October 26, 2012

I received a letter this week from a sweet friend of mine; through her letter she bore her testimony of God's personal plan for her. At the start of the school year, this friend of mine was disappointed that she was semi denied a wonderful opportunity she had had the year before. She was a bit disappointed, and I tried comforting her by explaining how I had gone through the same thing, but in years to follow, I saw that it was for a wiser purpose. She wrote, "I'm going to leave on my mission in the next few months!!! You probably know that President Monson announced that the mission age for girls has changed from 21 to 19, this will be a great blessing for me. Now, I think I know the reason I [was denied the opportunity]. I remember when I told you that I didn't make it you told me that God knew what he was doing. I understand now that you were right! I could have never imagined that me going on a mission was the reason!" Her testimony strengthened mine greatly, and helped me to see just how mindful of each of us our Heavenly Father truly is.
  A big part of what we do as missionaries is knock on people's doors and get to know them, especially asking them questions like, "What do you think the purpose of life is? really." There are only a few who can even produce an answer, most are confused about the question, and haven't actually given much thought to the question. If I can cause someone to really ponder the answers to these questions, I consider it a successful contact. :]
   We taught Victoria the Plan of Salvation this week. The plan of happiness that God has for each of us. Maritza ( a member of the ward) came to one of our lessons and taught something really powerful to Victoria. She explained, "every time your face a trial or tough challenge in your life, no preguntas, 'por que a mi?" pero pregunta, 'para que?'" Don't ask "why me?" ask, "for what purpose?"
   Victoria absorbed every thing we taught her about the plan and after we had finished explaining it all to her she said, "I think this is the most important thing you've taught me." We helped her to gain an eternal perspective, helped her to understand WHY what we teach is so important, and she was able to see just how perfect God's plan really is, how much he loves us, and why we are here on earth. It's a simple, plain, and precious truth.
   The plan has been on my mind this week, and as I was preparing a discussion for district meeting this week I came across a really great article in the Ensign from the January 2012 issue. It's an article written by Elder Stanley G. Ellis titled, "The Book of Mormon and God's Plan for Us." He opened by writing, "One of the common themes of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that God has a plan. It is described with various names reflecting its various parts--the plan of happiness, the plan of mercy, the plan of redemption, the plan of salvation (see Alma 42:5-31).
 Nowhere is the plan more clearly defined and taught than in the Book of Mormon. In fact, a good way to study the Book of Mormon this year is to look for what it says about that plan and about what that plan means for us."
   I made a pact to start studying the Book of Mormon for the rest of this year in the way that Elder Stanley advised. The plan is SO wonderful. It's amazing to see and gain a testimony of just how involved our Heavenly Father is in the details of the fabric of our lives. I know he loves us on an individual basis, and I know that there are no coincidences. I love you all!
Con todo mi amor,la hermanita Flores
burst of happiness for the week. The postman is my BFF. No but really.
This week we were visiting a ward member and I told my companion hey, look it's the postman, honk at him. We honked waved hi and drove down the street. five minutes later, he drove all the way down clear out of his route to hand deliver my Halloween package (p.s. thanks mom!). He's a funny guy. I love our postman, and he always laughs when I invite him to church because he says, "you are the 1,000 person to invite me." I always tell him, "yeah, but I'll be the only one who actually gets you there!"  We'll see how things go....

    I was super proud of myself for cooking up a breakfast of eggs, hashbrowns, and toast. nom.nom.

Just some goodies we got from Maritza! Hermana Canova goes through a jar of peanut butter a week!             It's pretty much all she eats.
We have cleaning checks once each transfer. If you get a 10 on your cleaning check, you're given a case of water and fruit. Guess who got a ten this week? THESE hermanitas.
We had a cereal party today for Pday. Elder Ho Ching and Elder Weeks brought the milk, we provided the honey bunches.
Our living room turns into a makeshift clothesline when the dryer decides to stop working. -__-
Our ward had a "Festival de Otoño" this weekend! Here's a picture of us and Maritza with her hija! As missionaries we were asked to put together a little game for the niños to play. Our solution: a missionary obstacle course involving putting on a dress shirt, running to one side, putting on a tie, running back, and then handing out a restoration pamphlet. creative no? :)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

You never realize how much the gospel has blessed your life till you go on a mission. Seriously. They are blessings which you can't describe, but I will simply describe it as a lasting happiness, a better quality of life. The best news of the week is that we have a baptismal date! With Victoria and she's come to church two weeks in a row. She loves it, and we love her. She really is the miracle find of my mission. Just as a refresher, we found Victoria my second day out in the field, and her home was the very first home where someone answered the door (the second overall knock). Victoria's testimony has grown, she has seen the power of prayer bless her life, she has literally felt the presence of the Holy Ghost guide her, and she is so sure that baptism is the next step she needs to take. One day when we went to visit Victoria, her eyes watered with tears as we expressed our love for her and the love Heavenly Father felt for her. She bore a simple testimony to us of how her life had changed since we had started teaching her. During this visit she moved a toy off of the couch and later explained that she felt something wonderful wash over her and felt as if someone else wanted to join our conversation so she moved the toy so that the Holy Ghost would have a place to sit. Another miracle that we've seen while teaching Victoria is that we have seen a difference in the behavior of her twin boys. They are calmer now, and they recognize us, and sit in on our lessons. At church, one of the twins had no problem leaving his mother to go to nursery, the other didn't want to leave, but, he was quiet during our entire gospel principles class. In Sunday school, Veronica was attentive and would whisper to us phrases like, "I remember when you taught me that?" or "That was my question! Remember when I asked you that?" The question posed by Elder Mallard as he was teaching was, "Can a person repent before baptism?" Victoria raised her hand and shared that she had started the repentance process, but she knew that there was one thing missing, the feeling of being forgiven and that was something she was going to receive when she was baptized. Her testimony and sharing that caused another investigator to bear his testimony about the same subject. It was so great. Victoria didn't stay for all of church because her husband picked her up right after Sunday School. We're hoping that when her husband sees the changes in her life, he'll want to start being taught the lessons. We're all praying hard for him. We also invited him to the ward's Halloween party this Friday, so we're hoping they will make an appearance. I love this work and I love you all! Love your hermanita, Hermana Flores :)

I don't remember if I sent this picture last time, but I definitely kept the tradition alive and had a Post Priesthood session Pizza Party with my companions!

It was Elder Mallard's birthday last Pday and so we gave him a robe we found in our apartment, a smiley face yo-yo we found at the carwash, and a pb&j sandwich, his fave.

                                                                 Where the planning session magic happens. :)
Elder Ho Ching and Elder Weeks (they're the English speaking areas for our area and live in the same complex) made us cookies and brought us cupcakes one night.
The next day we found this note ding-dong-ditched on our door.
Found this the other day as we were knocking, kind of put a smile on my face.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

We had our first day of crisp scarf and cardigan weather yesterday. It was glorious to feel as if we were blanketed with cool breezes. I love being able to see the seasons change. The only thing certain about life is change.
   Change is a miracle and it's a blessing to witness change, especially the change that comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ. While I may have only been out in Texas for two weeks, in this short period of time, i've seen change come into the lives of the people our trio is teaching. Sometimes the change is rapid within one lesson that we teach other times it's over a period of time. Change through Jesus Christ is a miracle, and it's been a blessing to see it firsthand.
  Victoria is reading the Book of Mormon! She's been having challenges with it though. Her Husband has been telling her that there is no evidence that the Book of Mormon is true and her Father has been telling her that there is no need to be baptized again. Victoria has seen change though through the power of prayer. She has felt peace, security, and she is just glowing when we come and visit her now. Victoria came to a session of conference as well with one of the members in the ward, Maritza. Maritza's been the BIGGEST help, we are SO thankful for her. She and Victoria are new bffs: they chat on facebook and call each other all the time. We would be seeing a lot more success if every member of the church fellowshipped this way.
   Change came over rapidly as we taught Carolina too, a member referral, about the restoration. It was so great to watch as the magnitude and importance of our bold declarations set in. We testified that this was the true Church, the same Church that Christ established on the earth. Carolina was really pensive and quiet as she meditated over what we said. She said she knew she had to find out if what we are teaching her is true. "There has to be something for you to leave your families and give everything up for 18 months of your life." 
   The last investigator I have to report on is Juan. He seems like he's STRAIGHT from Long Beach he keeps it real and is so ready for a change in his life. It's funny, the confusion people have about our faith: that we "pray" to Joseph Smith, that he became rich from what he did, and that he wrote the Book of Mormon all about himself. It was so fun for us to clarify things for Juan. To teach him that our church is centered on Jesus Christ, that we are grateful for the sacrifices of the prophet Joseph Smith, but that we don't worship or idolize him.
   Juan wanted to jump right into the story of "Mr. Smith, John Smith, or Juan Smith" (Juan confused his name a couple of times. But we knew that for him to truly understand our message, we had to go back to the times of Jesus Christ and help him understand the role of the Savior on earth, help him understand the authority of God and explain how there was an apostasy, truths were lost and Joseph Smith restored them. It was amazing to just in the course of an hour see Juan understand, to see him change and become reverent as he understood what exactly our message was. He kept saying, "I need to read this Book." We clarified that the Book of Mormon didn't contain the stories of Joseph Smith's experiences, but told the story of prophets in the ancient Americas who rejoiced, prophesied, and believed in Christ.
  Juan got really quiet and said, "that makes sense." WE changed his understanding of the Church completely and invited him to conference to hear the words of a living Prophet. We showed him pictures of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve and he said, "They just look like normal businessmen." I explained that they are normal, that they had real lives, that they worked, but now were retired and their main purpose was to testify of Christ. 
   When we started our lesson, I asked him why he had wanted/decided to meet with us? (We were visiting his mother who is less active when he said, "Can I ask you guys something? How old are y'all?" and what we were doing as missionaries and whether we could meet with him). Juan said that we seemed sincere, that we seemed perfect, happy, and glowing, and that there was an aura about us. He noticed the difference and noticed the difference in his Mom as well. He said that he recently had made a pact with God to change for the better and that maybe our coming over to visit his Mom was God's answer for change...
 I don't know if the word change describes the transformation we see accurately, but it's marvelous.
 Family, I thought about all of you during General Conference. Especially during President Monson's historical announcement of changing the ages of missionaries. We were all shocked in Texas. I calculated and we can see new, younger missionaries as early as March! It was also bittersweet as I realized that because of this change, I probably won't see my brother Devin for the next three years. I know this change was inspired, I know it. Friday night my companions and I were talking about what a blessing a mission is, how it fortifies you, and blesses you, how you learn at an accelerated rate. We had just been talking about how much we wished more girls would come on missions and partake of the blessings. Be careful what you wish for I guess. My heart was doing summersaults as I realized how many people and generations will be blessed by this single change. I most likely will be training a handful of these new younger hermanas and I am SO excited to meet them! I love my mission and I love you.

p.s. My two favorite talks were
"I'm a Mormon. I know it, I live it , I love it."
& Elder Russell M. Nelson's 
"Ask the Missionaries"
pretty sure we're making P-day shirts with those phrases. :)
Family, did you REALLY have lunch with the general authorities in between sessions?
If so, I am one jealous Hermanita.

I ran into my amiga from Living Legends Katie Bair at the MTC. Maybe I ran into her more than once... :)
This is really late, BUT this is a picture of my and my MTC Branch President, President Tyler. I love that man!
Sister Wenzel and I were assigned to sit on the very last row in our very small plane on the way to Texas.
Houston, I have arrived!

All the sisters that arrived to the mission on the same day! :)

Sister Wenzel and I were roommates for the first night, and just happened to have matching pajamas. YES!

                   Our first day as a trio! Hermana Maughan in the middle and Hermana Canova on the right. 

                               Nachos from Las Fuentes, the place that I said reminds me of Mom's cooking.

             Hermana Canova and I at the Barbeque place I told you about last week. :) They loved us there.

Our picture at the corner of Crawford street. :) taken by devout Mitt Romney supporters, my dad would love them.

                                            The inside of a Freebirds bathroom, they go all out in Texas. 

                                           We all wore blue and white one day, didn't even plan it that way.

                                         Post our first zone meeting, I've been converted to chipotle.

                                                      General Conference day!

Remember how I said Victoria came to conference? Well, she brought one of her twin sons to conference and he was a little bit rowdy. Hermana Maughan and I super wanted her to feel the spirit so we took him right outside the door for a session and gave him my colored pencils to draw with and the cookies my mom sent in my greenie package. It was like nursery. Don't worry we didn't break mission rules, we weren't along with kids, the door was open! Victoria's son isn't pictured here, but we had others join our little party.

                                       Thanks for the jungle cookies mom! They were put to good use! :)