Monday, December 30, 2013

Trilingual Tripanionship

Try saying the title to this letter three times fast. Serving as a missionary in Lake Charles has only intensified my obsession with the South. I'm coming back here after my mission the quickest I can. Lake Charles is so cute and quaint; it is a completely different world over here. You just cross the border and there must be something in the water because it's overflowing with Southern hospitality on this side of the mission. I was shocked by how much of a drastic change it is from Tejas.

In place of giant Texas stars plastered over every surface, there are smartly placed fluer de lis sprinkled throughout the neighborhoods. Baton Rouge and New Orleans square in Disneyland call my name every time we drive around the city. The culture here is different, Cajun customs and traditions have a major influence here. I truly feel like I'm serving a whole nother mission.

Our companionship is a hybrid. We have three different name tags in three different languages: English, Portuguese, and Spanish. We embody the gift of tongues. I have grown so accustomed to speaking Spanish 24/7 with Hna St. John that we have this comp goal, we speak mostly Spanish, but I've also picked up the habit of speaking mostly in Portuguese. Surprise! Obviously, I'm not 
fluent, but I figure if I speak it with Sis Muñoz daily, then in 6 (or 13 however many I have) weeks I'll be fluent! (kind of) I still catch myself introducing myself as Hna Flores, and I will always be an Hna at heart. It's taken some getting used to to be a Sister. I feel guilty everytime I speak in English, I just want to speak Portuguese 24/7. & I kind of just feel like I'm on an eternal exchange...

My companions! They are so great! Sis Johnson is from Colorado Springs, CO. She's been out for about 7 months, she's tall and a gymnst/diver/circus performer. Her laugh is kind of my favorite. She also can't have gluten so we have some interesting snacks lying around the apartment. :]

Sis Muñoz is from Cypress, TX waiting on her visa for Brazil. I have now officially served with every full-bloded Latina in the mission. Sis Muñoz is serving close to home right now and has been out 5 months. She went to BYU before the mission, instant friends. Brown people that went to BYU tend to have this natural connection. :] The ward yesterday thought that we were here to start a branch and they were super excited to have two "native" Spanish speakers.

Lake Charles is such a great area, it's an old area though and the Area Books, yes there are 3.5 area books, need some major cleaning out. Guess what my project is going to be this transfer?Papa, you will laugh at this Sis Johnson calls me the "throw-awayer" because of all the junk I've been getting rid of in our apartment. I can't help that I love me some orderly and cleanliness! & maybe I'm slightly OCD. 

I felt disoriented when I first got to my area because of how unorganized things were. I think the reason for the disorder is this: Every time a companionship entered the area they would color code and organize things a certain way, but never left a key AND never threw things away so we have tons of color-coded, scribbled on ward lists that make sense to no one save the missionaries that created them. Let's just say I have my work cut out for me, but I am so excited. Line upon line, Precept upon precept. 

it's christmas! A Cajun Christmas!
Love you!
Sis (formerly Hna) Flores

Saying bye to the Mendozas. They gave me a cute stuffed cow!
The other Mendozas, branch president and his family.
Saying farewell to Tejas at the border.
First time eating Gumbo! Those are crab legs we're holding up. crab legs.
Planner from last transfer (& week one of this...)
The entire mission! stolen from my companion's memory card.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Kind of like a Second Mission call...

I'm being transferred.  .  .
& usually when I'm being transferred or changing companions, I start off with a list of hall of fame memories. But, I kind of have a bombshell to drop. Because you see, I kind of know where I'm going. I may have to order a new name tag, because I'll be spending my last two transfers in...


It hasn't hit me yet, at least not fully. Christmas in Louisiana. New Years in Louisiana. For 13 weeks, the last 13 weeks of my mission, I will be serving as an English speaking missionary. Everything about this is different. State. Language. Companion. Food. & an English speaking ward! I don't even remember what it's like to go to church in English. I'm going to be singing English hymns. I'm going to be conversing with people in English.

It's a big secret.
Only my companion and I, President Crawford, and the assistants know. & it's kind of the best secret ever.

President Crawford called yesterday at around three. It was my driving day and so Pres. Crawford told Hna St. John to have me give him a call when I wasn't driving. Hna St. John was so hilarious, as soon as she got off the phone she yelled, "PULL OVER!" After pulling up to our next appointment, I called President, took the phone off speaker and listened as my heart beat tremendously fast. President Crawford said, "Hna Flores! I have a special assignment for you! If you could go anywhere in the mission where would it be?" Instantly Louisiana came to mind, but I didn't respond. I was just caught off guard. President Crawford explained that the "special assignment" would require me to serve English my last two transfers. I accepted. I was shocked and after we had tried our appointment without any success, I felt impressed to text President Crawford. I wrote, "President, to answer your question, probably Louisiana." After three minutes time I got a phone call and the first thing President said when I answered was, "Hna you guessed it!"

Louisiana has ALWAYS been a mission wish for me. I feel like Heavenly Father's favorite child right now. I will be serving in a trio in Louisiana, and trios are my favorite. I'm so so SO excited. Also, I guess third time is the charm. I have almost served English speaking twice before. Once at the very start of my mission, the second time recently when I was almost paired up with Sis Haynie. As I explained to President about how this had been something I had always secretly wanted he said, "Hna I feel SO good about this. I just know this is what needs to happen."

On the other hand, I am quite sad to leave Baytown. I know however that I'm leaving Baytown in wonderful hands. I am so PROUD of Hna St. John. Ah, if you all could just see how far she has come along. My heart is filled to the brim with joy. Baytown seriously has been the best. I admire so much the strong leadership here in this ward, their dedication to the Lord will forever be engraved in my mind. I can't wait to get my happy little self back here, and hopefully soon because there are two baptisms lined up! I only hope that I can find a kind member who would be willing to make the drive from Louisiana to Baytown. (Pray for me!)
& without further ado...

Hna St. John (San Juan) & Hna Flores Lil' guys in Bayberty.
1. The brakes on this Toyota are so touchy!
2. I haven't gotten one subway gift card.
3.There's no repeat button on our car stereo.
4. People keep giving us water bottles and there are half full water bottles all over the place in our car.
5. We always have a tough time pulling up to the key pad to our gated apartment.
6. Our district leader only speaks English. How is he supposed to interview someone that only speaks Spanish?
7. It's 8 o'clock at night and we have to knock doors in a sketchy part of town because it's Sundaynight and we have no gas.

& others...
8. Hna St John's bed time stories, novel of choice: Hna Flores' pre-mish journal
9. The one time we got packages galore? Christmas in October?
10. Being mad at Sassy Jesus.
11. "I'll just write a book, make a religion, and get killed." -said no one ever
12. The time President Crawford asked us to speak Spanish 24/7
13. Asking Hna St. John to memorize our phone number. Hna S: "Hna, I don't need to memorize it, I'm never going to forget my planner." Next day, forgotten planner.
14. Our pet cat: Taza. Tazita.
15. Having an in-depth Spanish grammar convo in the bathroom @ Texas Roadhouse because of the "lava tus manos" sign.
16. Knocking into a man, then seeing him the next day at zone meeting lunch. Um, server?
17. Every dog is named either Max or Brownie. Every cat, Tom.
18. The time we discovered Chick-fil-A sauce.
19. Mystery referral from the English elders, "She didn't speak any English but..."
20. "Classic"
21. "Lo peor!"

Made all my companions EVER (minus the two at home, and one in another mission) a little Christmas gift. Content: two burned CDs, a handmade planner, a Christmas letter, and the cutest mechanical pencils known to mankind.
Exchanges in Mont Belvieu. Just a little color-coding/organizing fun. :] The Hna Flores touch.
Christmas Conference! E. Sully, Hna Tonga, and Myself.
Katia! Our sweet investigator who left us for the tropical temperatures of the Dominican Republic.
The Aguirres! A family that is actually from my home stake in Long Beach. small. small. mundo.
Edgar & Esperanza Hernandez! & Analia! Love these three way too much.
The Rodriguez family, aka Ward Mission Leader.
Hno Pomeroy. Sad thing about going to Louisiana, no more Spanish classes. :[ 
The last Spanish class of my mission. :]

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

inner liahona...

So many things to comment on, and I'll try to make it all coherent. As of late, Hna St. John and I have been talking a whole lot about obedience. Obedience is the mark of a missionary. As a mission there are all these little guidelines we should be adhering to (i.e. washing the car every Monday, going to the store only on Pday, the music we listen to, etc). What's been surprising for me is to see how sometimes missionaries "pretend" they don't know the rules.

We all have an inner Liahona. We all have the gift of the Holy Ghost the difference is that sometimes we conveniently choose to ignore it or we choose to drown out the promptings we receive with justifications. Often times we "talk ourselves out of doing the right thing..." On observation we made is that really, how obedient a missionary is on the mission correlates with how well said missionary followed the guidelines of the ever classic booklet, "For the Strength of Youth". I never had made the connection up until now. My mission has embedded in me even more strongly the desire to do what's right. I have the desire to do what's right because I love my Father in Heaven and know that therein lies the key to true happiness. I feel that my mission has caused me to feel what the people of King Benjamin felt,

"...Yea, we believe all the words which thou has spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually." (Mosiah 5:2)

I'm not perfect! But I'm trying to be through patience in the Lord.

Not last week, but the week before I mentioned Katrina. She was a referral from a friend in Pennsylvania and came to the branch's thanksgiving dinner. good news and then not so good news. Good news! Katrina is progressing so well! She loves and has accepted everything we teach her. The spirit is always so strong in her lessons. Not so good news! Katrina is leaving this Thursday to the Dominican Republic for a month. :( Katrina has however accepted a baptismal date for February 1st and depending on when she gets back exactly that date could get bumped up! We are praying that she comes back sooner rather than later. :]

I love y'all!
Hna Flores

Hna Mellor and I were on exchanges so that we could drive up to MLC together. We had a gift exchange for Zone Pday, we were blessed with these shirts.
Outside the mission home. :] Classic. Also, the stripped shirt has become my lucky MLC shirt!
Hna Tonga is an STL now! Like Mother, like daughter. :]
MLC, love everyone in this photo. Especially the couple up front! Mission Parents, lo mejor! 
District Christmas photos. :]

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Instead of a Lengthy letter...

We had dinner this week with the Eslava family. Cutest children ever who are just so enthralled with everything we say and do! They were having little arguments about who's turn it was to speak with the missionaries. This is contrast with another dinner appointment we had this week. A little boy said in his prayer, "Heavenly Father, please bless me so that when the missionaries are here I won't feel bored." classic. After he finished praying he said, 'I hate missionaries.' Hna St. John and I died of laughter. He explained that his parents don't let him go upstairs and play with toys while the missionaries are here. worst punishment ever.

We were supposed to take Eren (left of Hna St. John) out to lessons with us this week, but found out that youth have to be 16 to ride in our car. Worst thing ever. We were so bummed, so to make up for it, we ordered Whataburger for her and her mom and had lunch with them on Wednesday. Also, Hna St. John said, "I've never eaten so many burgers in my life!" That's what happens when you become companions with someone who's favorite food is burgers. nom. nom. nom.

We were invited to Thanksgiving at the Pomeroy's home. Brother Pomeroy used to be in the mission presidency, but was released because he was called to serve as a sealer in the Houston temple. Brother Pomeroy hosts us every Wednesday for a "Spanish" lesson at his house. Although, we sometimes sabatogue the time and use it to tap into the extensive gospel knowledge storehouse he has.

And finally, this is what missionaries do on an all day Pday on Thanksgiving day. Gather together to play board games.

  & make planners for Christmas gifts.

With love,
Hna Flores

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Buenas Cosas en Baytown.

There are good things happening in this little place. It never ceases to amaze me how many people are connected in some form or way to the church. Just a roundup for this week.
Julia C.: Julia was found by English elders during the Hour of Power. She didn't necessarily have a connection with the church, but her Sister-in-law, Claudia, had met with missionaries in the past. Julia gave us Claudia's information and we paid her a visit. Unfortunately, Claudia's husband isn't too keen on her meeting with missionaries, but we put her name in the area book so that missionaries in the future can give her a try.
Violeta G.: Has a son who is actually currently serving a mission in Peru right now! Violeta doesn't have a strong religious background and so we are using the building blocks to teach her, object lessons, pictures, one-verse scriptures. The works.
Rumaldas.: The Rumalda's randomly came to church last week with their family who are members in Cypress, TX. We haven't had a chance to teach them yet because of work schedules, buthow wonderful is that? Their family drove all the way to Baytown just to show them where the local church was and to attend with them.
Katie A.: We found Katie during Hour of Power. (We've since passed her on to the English Elders) Katie's grandfather passed away earlier this year and he was a member of the church. Katie was really close to him and was commenting on how it was going to be strange to have celebrate her first birthday and holiday season without her grandfather.
Mirna?The reason for the question mark is we contacted Mirna? through the phone. Our district leader has developed the habit of calling us whenever he and his companion come into contact with a Spanish speaker. Mirna? actually has an uncle that is LDS and has a copy of the Book of Mormon because her uncle has spoken to her about it before.
Katrina.: Katrina is another interesting story. Katrina's friend living in Pennsylvania found our branch President's number and called him. Our branch President has been inviting Katrina to church and this week she came to our Branch's thanksgiving party as well as church. Hna St. John and I are hoping to meet with her today.
We had zone conference this week and President Crawford counseled us to , "be lights not judges." Light has actually been my study topic for the year. We are counseled to be lights in the scriptures so that others may recognize our good works and glorify our father in Heaven. There are so many people that we can be "lights" too. I had kind of a neat experience this week.
I've decided when I go home I just want to volunteer and help kids with their homework, seriously, no greater joy. I was working on my grad school application at the library when I heard a mother whispering to her son, "Luchador de derechos hermanos." Her son was trying to translate the phrase but semi-unsuccessfully. I made my way over and spent an hour helping Rodolfo translate his Mexican Revolution project from Spanish to English. No greater joy. Rodolfo's mom, noticed my tag and we chatted for a bit about missionary work, the church, and just what exactly I was doing in Texas and left her with a pass-along card. Just a simple act. It doesn't take a missionary badge to go about doing good.
I feel so blessed to be a missionary, so blessed to be able to serve the people of Baytown. I feel spoiled sometimes by all the goodness my life has, and I know that it is all attributed to the gospel of Jesus Christ in my life. I love love love being a missionary, especially of the Texas Houston East variety. :]
With love,
Hna Flores

Classic. A generations photo, just because we'd never taken one. Pasadena for Zone Conference. So good to be home. :]
Last week, Elder Tolman (car coordinator) told us Golden Girl looked trashy, this week. ABOVE AVG. simple joys in life.
Twin day. Photo with Sueyzen Fong, a young woman who is always willing to come out to lessons with us.
Hermana Power en La Rama de Tejas. Hna St. John, Me, Hna Mellor, Hna Ochsenbein.
Companion love.
Lastly, my Mission President is Captain Moroni's doppleganger. NBD

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

4 Hnas 4-4-4 for Baybertyyy!

We are fueling Hermana Power in Baytown. Our Elders were flushed out and we now have four Hermanas serving in our little rama de Tejas--Hna Mellor and Hna Ochsenbein. Hna Mellor and I came out to Texas on the same flight and Hna Ochsenbein has been on her mission for 10 months. We didn't get a picture this week, but soon se lo prometo. It's been so great to have Hnas in the branch with us, the ideas have been flowing and we are all so committed to the work. It's all around good. We're both (companionships) inviting members out with us on almost a daily basis. Because the Elders left, Hna St. John and I are now covering a semi-sketchy street in our area known as N_____ (Just for confidential purposes, I'll mention the street as "N street". The Elders used to cover that area, but we're now teaching an investigator living there and a family visiting with realtives walked into church this Sunday and they live on that street as well. We'll be taking a couple of trips to N street. My philosophy is this, after living 22 years in Compton, CA, what's N street?
Speaking of sketchy places. Hna St. John and I had to spend two hours last night knocking in one of the most sketchy areas of our area. The reason, well to make a long story short, Hna St. John had forgotten to fill the car up on Saturday with gas and being Sunday (sabbath day holy) we had no choice, but to knock for two hours in the sketchiest part of town. I was a little ticked, but we are blessed with moments like that to learn patience, right? Some good came of it! We found two potentials, set up return appointments, and had a member present lesson afterwards.
Esmeralda and her husband both came to church on sunday! Although, not sure if I updated y'all that she wants to wait till after her delivery to be baptized. Especially since the baptismal date we set is when the doctor informed her that she could possibly go into labor.
No other "big" news except for the fact that Hna Mellor is also an STL and I will no longer be going on exchanges with the Liberty Hnas, but instead will be exploring Mont Belvieu this transfer. :)
Hope y'alls weeks are filled with sunshine! As for Baytown it's been foggy and humid, perfect combination for mosquitos which I'm sarcastically really excited about.
With Love,
Hna Flores

A member blessed us with gift cards to Texas Roadhouse. First timer! That's how I spent my veterans day. :]
Just a cute note I left over a not-so-nice sign.
                                                     Cute animal picture. Because I had to!
Also, just realized practically every photo, I have a braid in my hair. I'm a missionary who's hair gets frizzy in humidity. THE WORST.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Staying in Baytown & a little miracle story.

I have never been more excited to not be transferred. So last friday Hna St. John and I went knocking on a little tiny street in Baytown. We knocked into this woman and she answered the door in a costume.This was strange considering it was the day after Halloween, but she had a Halloween party to attend. She told us we could come back. Typical door contact nothing really exciting. After MLC, Hna St. John and I tried her, it was one of those awkward encounters: we get out of the car, she pulls up and comes to grab her mail. She told us to come right in.
We walked in and talked about normal conversation things (her sons football practice, Halloween, the weather). As we started talking to her she said, "Oh I have a sister that goes to the church on Purple sage." My thought, "great, she's confusing us with another church." To clarify things I asked, "Your sister is Mormon?" She said, "Yeah, my sister and my brother. Actually my brother is getting sealed this weekend...." We asked her what she had thought when we first knocked on her door and she said, "Well. First I was embarrassed because I was dressed up as a devil and answered the door to y'all. [so funny!] Then I called my sister to ask if she had sent y'all." (She didn't this was pure Heavenly Father)
Anyways, it was amazing, we explained what a temple was, what a sealing was, and she said, "You know, my sister tried to converts us years ago, and I didn't understand. But, she wanted us to get sealed! She invited us to church because she loves us." Meanwhile her son 9-year-old Rolando is interjecting in the background, "I want to get sealed! I want to get baptized!" As we were heading to our dinner appointment we left Alejandra (we'll call her that) and her son Ruben with pamphlets. Ruben grabbed the pamphlet and said, "I'm keeping this in my room and I'm reading this EVERYDAY." Hna St. John and I were bewildered. We were positively beaming as we walked to the car and as soon as we stepped into Niña de Oro (our car) we started screaming and looked at each other and said, "Did that really just happen?" There also might have been some Wicked playing in the background of my mind. :) We had a return appointment Thurs, but it fell through... Don't worry, there are too many connections/coincidences for us not to go back.
I feel so grateful to stay in Baytown for at least 5 more weeks. I am enamored with everything about this place. Yesterday we were in PEC and I was just filled with gratitude to be serving with the strong leaders of the Texas Branch. We reported on a less active we had visited, one who didn't even live in our area (long story) who's mother had passed away, and without delay our branch president turned to his counselors and said, 'What time today can we go visit this brother?'" The branch is changing it's vision of hastening the work of salvation and I'm so blessed to be a part of it. Oh yeah, 5 more semanas in Baytown!
Te amo,
Hna Flores

Familia Carvajal. Hna is one of my favorite cooks in the branch!
The cutest puppy ever. at a potentials home. I'm obsessed with the furry friends of Houston.
planner for last transfer. plus the shnazzy carpet from the Baytown library.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Daylight Savings--Not a Big Deal.

Confession: Hna St. John and I spent Halloween listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Christmas CD Rejoice and Be Merry. Halloween was a mission-wide de-Junk day. We were given a couple of hours to deep clean the apartment and get rid of any kind of junk in our apartment. If there's one thing I've discovered about myself on the mission it's how OCD I am. I can't properly function if things aren't neat, clean, and organized. This explains why I've had to color code and re assemble every area book and ward list where I've served and had to contribute a car area book. It just feels good to be organized, you know?
I learned something this week. I studied in-depth prayer and faith and how the two correlate together. I love the quote from Pres. Hinckley found in Preach My Gospel, "The trouble with most of our prayers is that we give them as if we were picking up the telephone and ordering groceries--we place our order and hang up. We need to meditate, contemplate, think of what we are praying about and for and then speak to the Lord as one man speaketh to another."
So I came to this conclusion. Prayer is communication with God. It's not an emergency hotline, it's not a rote action, it's not a place or time where you negotiate with God. Prayer is a time to counsel with God, to ask for help with sincere real intent, really intending to do our part to help ourselves and to follow and accept the council we receive, understanding that ultimately God knows best. In my prayers I try to say, "Heavenly Father I am considering this. Is this correct? What should I do?"
I love the scripture found in Alma 37:37, "Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy hear be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day." <3
We set a baptismal date with Esmeralda this week. We're hoping that Dec 7th works out! Esmeralda is also due in December, so we're hoping that that doesn't complicate things. Esmeralda and her hesband are doing so well with their reading of the Book of Mormon, they are well on their way to 2nd Nephi. We are also currently working with a man who we'll call Jaime. Jaime came to church last week, but our appointment with him on Halloween night fell through. We visited him last night. We were using the Resotration pamphlet to explain the steps of prayer and asked if he had one still. He said, "No, I gave mine away." Hna St. John and I were caught off guard. "You gave yours away?" We were puzzled. "My friend at work, Victor, he was really interested in what it had to say, so I gave it to him." We could contain our laughter. It was just unbelievable. Here we are trying to get members to share the gospel with others, and our investigators are doing it so willingly, without really being asked!
Yesterday was the end of Daylight Savings. For some reason I've been dreading it. I don't know why it seemed like such a bigger deal this time around, it was really putting a damper in the day. It is the worst when you're a missionary to have appointments fall though in the dark, it seems as if no one will answer the door for you. Hna St.John and I were knocking when I saw out of the corner of my eye a little garden rock that had the following scripture on it, "This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." It changed my day. I thought, "Hna Flores! Why are you being so silly! Missionary work is still Missionary work no matter how dark it may be!" I have a goal to commit that scripture to memory. Anytime the dark bugs me, I shall rejoice in the day.
Our Ward Mission Leader's son returned home from his mission this week, and there was a soiree held in his honor on Saturday and he was presented with his missionary plaque (you know with your mission scripture, map of your mission, and your photo). Anyways, I just thought, "How grateful am I to be a missionary! A representitive of our Savior Jesus Christ." I know I've said this before, but my mission really is my favorite.

With Love,
Hna Flores

Hna Lisyanskaya and I on exchanges in LIBERTY. Pumpkin cheesecake courtesy of a less-active who took us out for dinner.
May or May not have had burgers 3 days in a row. Not even worried about it. Burgers are an essential food group.
Just a stray cat we found in the streets. We affectionately named her, Taza.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The longest letter I'll ever write home.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That's the only way that seemed appropriate to start this letter. (If I'm not mistaken, 23 exclamation points were used to make that emotion conveyed possible) Saturday and Sunday combined I wrote about 5 pages in my journal combined, enough to get me to finish my journal, and I'm still not even done detailing everything. This Thursday we had President Interviews. President Crawford asked how I was, I told him I was doing just great! He said, "That's wonderful! Well, that's it then!" :] Funny man. In my interview President asked if there was anything he could do for me, I didn't really have anything. He then said, "Hna Flores, I need you to do something for me." He explained that E. Callister and other general authorities were in town, they were having a conference and he needed Sister Haynie and I to go and represent the mission. He didn't have too many details to offer, so I was left to just contemplate till Saturday. I thought it might be a conference and we'd be seeing missionaries from the other missions, NOT SO.
First off, the meeting took place in a Marriott Hotel, located in the airport--like literally a part of the airport. Sis. Haynie and I were so shell-shocked. It was all so glamorous and luxurious. We definitely must have looked like tourists. Also, I feel like President keeps giving Sis Haynie and I these special assignments and trips to make up for the fact that we were ALMOST companions. (Did I ever write home about that? Up until a week before transfers, Sis. Haynie and I were all set up on President's transfer board to be companion. & then he told us. #theWORST) Anyways, back to the airport-hotel; we tried some of their complimentary lime with green apple water and what seemed to be a citrusy grapefruit and orange blend. Then we went to search for where the guest realtions hostess told us the meeting would be. I walked pass the glass door and saw brethren and then a man called us over.
Sis Haynie & I sat on a couch across a Stake President, a Bishop, and a Ward Mission Leader from the Houston South mission I believe. We talked about how the work was going in our respective areas. It was a nice chat, and then they were called into the council. By that time E. Jones and E. Erickson had arrived. They were the two Elders President had chosen to represent the mission. We still had no idea what to expect up to this point. We started talking about what we thought might go on...
Finally we were summonsed for. We walked in. The setting was small and intimate. Up front at a table sat E. Ronald A. Rasband, E. Tad R. Callister, and E. Michael John U. Teh and seated in a "U" formation sat the 11 Area Seventy of the North American Southwest area. We were told to put our things down on four chairs and then told to stand up front. I was under the impression that we were just supposed to represent the Houston East Mission, but in reality we represented every missionary in the NASW area (Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico, parts of Louisiana)!
E. Bradley D. Foster of the Second Quorum of the 70 introduced us to the group and then the three elders presiding (I guess you could say) came up to us and shook our hands. E. Foster explained that we were to be a focal group for something called an Area Council. These 11 Area authorities were being trained by the brethren over things that had been taught at general conference. To start off, E. Foster asked a question to the area authorities about how the people who were spoken of in 4 Nephi were described. It says, "Surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God." (4 Nephi 1:16) He explained that now we'd be asked a series of questions, that there was no need to be nervous (!!!!!!!!!!!), but they wanted us to answer openly.
The questions we were asked had to do with the challenges of the increase in number of missionaries, how well we felt we were working with the wards, if the members were helping, etc. E. Rasband then was asked to instruct all present about unity in hastening the work of salvation. He asked, "How many of the Area 70 are returned mission presidents?" Almost all the hands went up. He then turned to us and said, "Do you think we love you? We love you!" He had such a piercing gaze and I was just filled with love. I could feel the love Heavenly Father had for me personally. E. Rasband taught us that 1+1 does not equal two, he explained that the potential 1 member + 1 missionary is limitless, he also told us this push on hastening the work of salvation is here to stay.
E. Rasband also asked us a series of questions about what we could do better as missionaries, and asked the three brethren from the South Mission to describe what the members could do to help us better. E. Rasband explained that this same thing had been done during general conference in front of the general authorities He extended a commitment to the four of us and told us to share what we had learned in MLC, he said, "You four go to the Missionary Leadership Council, correct?" We nodded our heads, 'yes.' He then went on, "I want you to share with them what you have learned here. I want you to roleplay what you have seen here today. Will you do that?" some more head nods. He then finished, "We'll probably be seeing you within the next couple of years. We will follow-up with you then." When he said that I felt like he was peering into my future. Afterwards, Sis. Haynie and I contemplated on that, "What does that even mean!?" We were dismissed with handshakes by all the general authorities, given validation for parking, and sent on our ways.
I definitely had NOT been anticipating my weekend to end that way when I emailed last Monday. It was such a rich experience. After the meeting, Sis. Haynie and I found the following text on our phone from Pres. "Sisters, seek out Elder Foster...He is moderating your group. I believe the discussion will center on councils and how they are working in the Hastening of the work. Area 70's will be in the meeting. You are in my prayers." It just kind of made us chuckle. Typical President. We were so hungry, we went to Chick-fil-A afterwards and just debriefed EVERYTHING that had just taken place. It was incredible, such a testimony building experience. It was a kindle to the fire that I have for missionary work.
Also, can you say longest letter ever!?
- I spoke in Sacrament mtg for the first time on my mission. Topic: Enduring to the End. Spent some quality time typing it up. In espanish. classic.
- Finished a journal started writing in one Krista (Hna Dedrick) gave me before she left.
- Went to discount tire, our tire had a nail in it. We met an inactive member, he actually came up to us and struck a conversation. Stories were shared (on his part) about provo dance parties, and mormon dating. It was comical. Also, met members from the Beaumont branch. Random. Discount Tire: the place to be.
Thank you for enduring to the end of this letter,
Hna Flores

Part of our zone. :]
Hna St. John and I on the deck of Battleship TX. We took a trip across on a ferry for zone Pday
Had dinner with the Mann's (a cute non-member senior couple who's grandson was serving in my homeward). They took us to El Toro, and I had a stuffed avocado.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Pride is the worst.

This transfer I've been learning lessons for life everyday. Trials and Weaknesses have been refining us this transfer. "For, behold, I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." (1 Nephi 20:10). Hna St. John has been having her share of trials to deal with and I've been coming face to face with my weaknesses. We are determined to come out conquerer, with the Lord as our guide. The scripture that was the driving force this week for Hna St. John and I was 2 Nephi 31: 19-20
" 19. And now, my beloved brethern, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.
20. Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life."
Appropriate in so many ways, but especially so because I just found out last night I'm speaking in sacrament meeting on "Enduring to the End." It's my first time giving a talk in Spanish since the MTC, but at least I have more time to prepare now right?
Companions are the best.
Every transfer I feel like I just keep getting better and better at having open communication and trusting my companions 100%. I have complete trust in Hna St. John so much so that I've  I thought about what a peculiar sight Hna St. John and I were during one day this week. We sat at the table in our living room eating Tamales a member in our branch had given us, listening to vintage Mormon Tabernacle Choir music and reading, Ezra Taft Benson's famous talk, "Beware of Pride." I was reminded of the scripture in 1 Peter 2:9, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:"
Pride has been on my mind lately. I want nothing to do with it. As I read President Benson's talk I was able to recognize so much of it in myself. I'm working on cleansing the inner vessel and doing ALL I possibly can to rid myself of this great vice. Also, in watching this talk on President Benson didn't even give the talk, he had President Hinckley read it. I thought that was such an interesting twist. I also came to the conclusion that I need to read more C.S. Lewis post-mission. This quote resonated with me, "Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. ...It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone."
I've come to the conclusion that Pride is illogical. We are all children of a loving Heavenly Father and he loves us equally. You can name any two people, the worst of villians and the most humble person you know, and God loves them both just the same. We are all trying to get to the same end-goal. For no one truly wants to be alone in the presence of God. If we shoot to be, "the best" we will be severely disappointed for their is no "best." Only a personal best.
I was studying the patriarchal blessing of my Grandfather Quesada this week and I just loved this piece of wisdom. I'm paraphrasing, but it was something to the extent of, "may we all recognize our dependence on God, and our dependence on one another. For that is the way the God intended, we cannot enter into his presence without the help of our brothers and sisters or without serving and helping them." I'm obviously not as eloquent as a patriarchal blessing. But it was just a powerful reminder to me of the gospel truths I proclaim everyday.
Pride is just like any other addiction. It is the praise of a moment that drives us, it is the satisfaction of being on top even if only for a bit. I thought about how similar, but subtle it is compared to other addictions. I'm working on it. I'm living by this motto, Proverbs 27:2, "Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips."
In quick news, this week was stake conference. All about Hastening the Work of Salvation. I've served my entire mission (...thus far) in the Houston East Stake. It was so wonderful to see friends and families that I have grown to love. We also sang in a special choir with the youth, a medley of, "Armies of Helaman" and "Called to Serve." It was wonderful. President Crawford sat on the stand, and as we walked down he said with tears streaming down his face, "bad sister missionaries. Bad sister missionaries." :) It was tender.
I love my mission.
Hna Flores

Hna St. John and I after stake Conference. :) Thank you Tia Maria for the dress! Favorite kind of dresses ever!
& A story with a picture. My District Leader Elder Owens forwarded me this email:

Subject: Hermana Cole...Hermana Flores
"Cute story about Hermana Cole. After dinner she was looking at the pictures you sent us that I had on the fridge. She saw the one of you with your district and wished I had a more close up shot. Lucky for her I just so happened to have one. When I showed her she got really excited and said..."hey, that's Lauren Flores!! She's my friend! We were in Living Legends together at Byu!" So we took a picture of her holding the picture. She was really excited. I will send you a hard copy that you can give to Hermana Flores...if you don't mind. Funny how small the world is in the church!. I emailed a copy to both their parents. I know how much it has meant to me when people have done that for me.
Love you!