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 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