Sunday, September 23, 2012


I do my best thinking in the shower. I think this is maybe owing to the combination of warm relaxing steam and drops of water cleansing every pore. Not to mention good smelling soap. I'm currently washing my hair with Awapuhi (it's a Hawaiian plant) organic shampoo and this amazing bar of African black body soap. It's a party for the senses. One day a couple of years ago, I was visiting my Tia Maria & Tio David Torres' home and as I was leaving, I caught a glimpse of words adoring the wall space just above the entryway. The words read, "Be true to who you are & the family name you bear --Gordon B. Hinckley." That phrase has stuck with me over the years and greets me everytime I open my scriptures. I've been meditating about this phrase a lot the past three weeks I've been here in the MTC. 

Sheri Dew, CEO of Deseret Book and former member of the Relief Society General Presidency spoke to us about this very topic last Sunday in Relief Society. She told us to ask ourselves the question, "Am I living up to my heritage? and then taught us how we have two heritages: our mortal heritage consisting of our parents, grandparents, ancestors, and our diving heritage because ultimately, we are all sons and daughters of God. She powerfully put it that we are offspring of the King of Heaven that we in fact have a pedigree of direct lineage to Him. I thought that was beautiful. 

I've been told before that I know, "everyone." I've always claimed that this is false. I know a good amount of people, God just has a way of making it so that I intersect paths with people I know. Sometimes he even just has me establish crazy connections with "new" people I meet. Yesterday in the MTC I saw Elder & Sis Falabella who are essentially my family. It made my day! I was eating lunch with my district when I saw them walking through the cafeteria during a tour of the MTC. I just got so excited. I ran up to them and gave Hermana Falabella the biggest hug. It was the next best thing to seeing someone in my family. This week I've also run into people from Living Legends and BYU and even my roommate from my study abroad in Mexico who I hadn't seen in over two years. Running into people is kind of my way of feeling God's love for me. 

My first day in the MTC, we met our Branch President, President Tyler. He began introducing himself and said he was from Long Beach, CA and I gasped and said, "I'm from Long Beach!" He proceeded to ask what ward and it turns out he grew up in the Long Beach 7th ward! In my mind I quickly calculated about what years I thought he would have lived in the area and said, "You might know my grandparents then, the Quesadas." There was a long silent pause, and I thought he maybe just couldn't picture who they were, but he later broke the silence and quietly answered almost crying, "very well." His father apparently served in the Enos Branch presidency with my grandfather. Later in the meeting he stopped and said with a smile on his face, "So you're a Quesada? Well, I am honored to have you in this district," and he shook my hand firmly. 

I've thought so much about that experience during these past three weeks here. Our family names have such great legacies attached to them and it is our duty to our ancestors and to ourselves to live up to them. We cannot hide from our legacies, and we cannot hide from the Lord. My time here in the MTC is pretty much over! I have loved it, and I LOVE my district. They are too sweet for words. All the elders put their money together to buy an assortment of candies and other snacks and put them in a small box along with a sweet 'thank you' card. It warmed our hearts. Hermana Giron and I surprised the elders in return with pieces of paper where we had written out acronyms or their names as well as bookmarks depicting scenes from the life of Christ. They were so happy! 

Well, the next time you hear from me, I'll be in Texas! I've so far met 6 hermanas who are headed to my same mission along with me. SIX. I'm so ready to serve and ready to love the people in my mission with all my heart. 

Con Todo mi Amor, 
Hermana Flores 

p.s. Little burst of happiness in the MTC this week, they served Navajo tacos! You know how much I love those things. :) mmmmhhmmmm.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Happiness Galore!

10 Things that make me terribly happy: MTC edition

1. My Latino district & their awesome Spanish-influenced accents.
2. Early morning gym classes. 5:45 wakeup time + a great workout? My kind of morning
3. Running into familiar faces, even it they're only people who I just recognize from BYU campus, I run up to them and give them a big hug (or a firm handshake).
4. The sight of being surrounded by hundreds upon hundreds of missionaries. We're an army over here.
5. Hearing Elders speak in broken Spanish around our classroom, trying their very best.
6. The way you can get so absorbed in missionary work that you forget about the outside world completely.
7. Long days of learning!
8. Beautiful Utah weather. It's beginning to be fall (my favorite season in Utah) the leaves are about to change colors and you can smell the beautiful rain and feel the moisture in the air.
9. Learning about the Savior. instead of focusing on things that make our church different, we really focus on Christ. He is central to ALL we do here.
10. Special sister treatment. They <3 us here. 

   There should be an MTC (Missionary Training Center) boot camp that anyone can attend. It is a wonderful piece of heaven on earth. It's a bit like BYU on steroids, if that makes sense. I LOVE it here and while originally I was frustrated by my supposed Nov 5th departure date. I'm starting to get sad at the thought that I might only be here for 3 weeks!
   My Tia Maria dropped me off right at the curb with by bright red suitcases in hand, and I was so happy and ready to face the unknown as two sweet elders helped me to wheel my luggage away. My arrival was kind of a blur a mixture of hearing echoes of "welcome sister" along with a feeling of being lost and disoriented. Just as I was being greeted by one sister, I heard someone yell out, "Lauren!" I turned around and who did I see? Sis Tevaga from Compton 1st ward! She's serving in the Philippines. We gave each other the biggest hugs (there were multiple) & she wisked me away to my room and class. I haven't seen her since.
   Life here at the MTC consists of a series of workshops and classes. Since I know Spanish, I'm in the class where we learn all about our purpose as missionaries. I always for some reason thought that we would learn how to teach about the things that make us different like the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, Temples, etc. but so far our lessons have focused on Christ and how we teach others to have faith in Him and how we can draw closer to Him. It's simplistic, but beautiful.
   I have such great LOVE for my district. A district is a group of missionaries we have classes with. Everyone in my district is Latino and I love everything about us. I'll just write a brief bit about them.
Hermana Giron is my companion. She's from Georgia and half Nicaraguan, half Houndorian. She's beautiful and so sweet and kind. We get along too well.

Elder Sarmiento is from Colombia originally, but lives in Provo now. He is so knowledgeable in all things spiritual, but he's also super humble about it. He's always the first to say "thank you," for things.

Elder Aragon is originally from Mexico but also lives here in Utah now. He's this skinny lanky boy with mouse-like features but has such a funny spirit he makes us laugh!

Elder Campos is from Texas but lived in Mexico most of his life. He's just warming up to us. He prefers speaking in Spanish. He surprises us though there are moments where he just bears his testimony and it's as if doctrine is spilling out of his mouth.

Elder Allred is the leader of our district. He was born in Guatemala but was adopted at age 11. He has those typical Guatemalan features, almost Native American looking. He is impressively humble and such an example to me.

Elder Romero. Oh boy, Elder Romero is the class clown. He is the spitting image of your typical LA boy. Although he now resides in Las Vegas. He cracks us up & keeps it real.

Elder Medrano was born in Peru, but you guessed it, he lives in Provo now. He is like the younger version of my primo Ammon. He's such a hipster and reminds me of a teddy bear. He says the most colorfully awkward things & pobresito he hurt his toe and is now wearing a boot on his foot.

Elder Jijon. His last name reminds me of "It's a wonderful Life" when the young boys say, "hee-haw." Love it. He's originally from Ecuador, but now lives in Utah. He is such a spiritual giant and a sweet spirit! He's quiet but very observant and inquisitive. & He reminds me of my primo Raul! Fitting since, his companion is Elder Medrano.

   I love my district so much & it's only been 4 days. I won't bore you with any more, but I love you all! :) Te amo!

con todo el amor en mi corazon,
Hermana Flores

p.s. Little burst of happiness this week:
My companion told me that as we were walking a sis missionary said, "I am so obsessed with her outfit right now." SCORE :)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A little piece of Humble pie.

 I got asked today if I was Native American. This was of course while I was wearing a name tag that completely specified that my name was Hermana Flores. Apparently that last name isn't Mexican enough. So I'm really excited today because I got my flight plans! I leave in 10 days. I fly to Houston and arrive there at 1:29 PM! Sweet Bliss! As much as I love the MTC I'm just really anxious to go to Texas. It's one thing to be practicing to teach and it's a whole another ball game. I didn't write out my letter this time, so this week's email is going to be a bunch of mumbo-gumbo. I'm sorry. Most of my time in the MTC is spent in class. We have two teachers one in the morning one in the night. I got the question today, what do you learn in the MTC if you're not learning Spanish? Well, we learn to teach by the Spirit, learn why prayer is so important, how to talk about the Book of Mormon, and how to invite investigators how to pray. I feel like I would be AWESOME at this in English, but Spanish, it's been a challenge. My vocabulary is massive in English, I know how to express myself perfectly, but Spanish, I feel so limited in my word choice. I'm working on it though, I'm saying my prayers in Spanish, and this week I wrote a journal entry in Spanish. Thankfully, my companion, Hermana Giron is esuper efluent in espanol. I don't know how to write an enye on this computer and it frustrates me. 
   I think Sundays and Tuesdays are my favorite days at the MTC although, I've only had them once so I don't have much to compare it to. Sundays are up to us to fill with spiritual goodliness. My district was a little rowdy on Sunday and so I just got inspired to ask everyone the question to everyone, "When was the first time you felt the spirit or you just knew the church was true?" I was humbled. I don't know how I got blessed with such a good life, with great parents, and incredible opportunities, but I learned to appreciate them a lot more after hearing the stories of those in my district. My application to serve a mission took such a long time, but I truly believe that they were delayed for a reason, and I think that part of that reason was so that I could be in this district so that I could be humbled by their spirits. 
   On Tuesday we had a devotional given by Elder Carlson of the Seventy. He spoke about Obedience tied in with Humility. It was definitely something that I needed to hear, not necessarily because I'm disobeying mission rules. More so, because sometimes the little rules don't make sense to me and I kind of follow them in a not so good attitude. My absolute favorite quote from Elder Carlston's talk was, "Heavenly Father has a plan for us each day. How much we harvest of that is up to us!" I love that.
  The MTC empowers you and helps you to feel as if you can share the beautiful message of the gospel with anyone and everyone. I am humbled by the circumstances of my district. How was I blessed with loving faithful parents, with a great legacy, and so much more? To be surrounded by people in humble circumstances helps me to feel charity, helps me to feel the spirit, and helps me WORK HARD.

Te Amo!

Hermana Flores

p.s. I found my twin at the MTC. Hermana Stum is from Vancouver, WA (she's going to Chile) and not only do we match sometimes, but she also happens to be double jointed from her fingers as well. :) Please don't be disturbed by our pictures, we promise it doesn't heart one bit.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

the semi-unkown.

See that little patch of gray on the map above, just on top of the Gulf of Mexico? I get to call that little spot of sunshine my home for the next 18 months (minus the three weeks spent in the MTC if you want to get technical). There's a lot of adventures, trying times, miracles, and good memories to be had on that grey piece of map!

I simply can't imagine doing anything else than serving the people of East Texas/Western Lousiana for the next 18 months of my life.

No other place I'd rather be. :)