Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pecan Park

10 Things that make me INCREDIBLY happy: Pecan Park edition
1. The downtown Houston skyline! I'm currently serving in Houston and in the closest area to downtown in the mission!
2. Hna Arcila is my companion! The impossible happened, President Crawford put the only two Latinas in the mission together.
3. Centro Americanos. I hear more than just Mexican accents everyday.
4. Wooden panel floors in our apartment. Oh the little joys in life, our apartment is so much newer than my last apartment which means, it's just that much nicer. 
5. The hidden "Pasadena/San Marino" neighborhood in our area. Hna Arcila and I went to try and go knocking on Saturday, I chose the street, um. The street was full of BEAUTIFUL million dollar looking homes, and unfortunately full of Caucasians, we ended up not knocking.
6. We live right next to a convent. Yes, oh the irony of things, as I am serving as a sister missionary I live right next to a group of nuns, kind of hilarious isn't it. 
7. Elder Davis' Indie Hymns CD. Lower Lights, I had heard them before the mission, but never thought much about them, now that my musical selection is limited, well... it's kind of like music to my ears. 
8. People who listen! Oh my goodness, the people here actually listen to us, give us the time of day, are kind. It's wonderful.
9. Did I mention I love having a latina companion.
10. I feel like I'm serving in East L.A. (Although, East Los I'm not going to lie, is so much better.)

Miracles happen! Hna Arcila and I are companions! You should have heard the gasps and cheers in transfer meeting when President announced we would be put together. Elder Jensen (He's my zone leader/once again in my district) refers to us as the "sassiest companionship in the mission." Once upon a time I heard that Pecan Park is where Beyonce lived, but I'm not sure how true that rumor is.
   Pecan Park is in Houston, so I can now actually say that I've served in Houston. I serve in the Broadway 3rd ward and I love it so much. It has a completely different feel than Pasadena, maybe because there are more than just Mexicans in the ward, and there's a lot more Spanish spoken. It also just has a "city" type feel to it. Pecan Park is filled with curvy streets and we have freeways in our area, that's been an adventure in itself. 
   Working with Hna Arcila has been so great. It's so different being in a companionship with someone who understands the language just as much as you do. I love my ward so much as well, and um, guess who's attempting to play piano these days? I knew my luck of not having to butcher hymns was going to wear out soon. I'm the piano player for baptisms, relief society, and will sometimes play for sacrament, I definitely will be practicing a whole lot more. 
  I don't have much time to email today, but. I will get my thoughts more composed and ready for next week! 

Con Todo Mi Amor, 
Hna Flores

Currently. . .

Sunday, March 24, 2013

the best time of the mission.

A while ago, we had a tri-mission conference where one of the speakers said, "you should make every companionship the best time of your mission." I can honestly say that this transfer has so far lived true to that statement. I love my companion so much. I know that my Heavenly Father placed me with Hna Arcila for a specific reason, there have been so many growing experiences already.

It's amazing to me how fast paced missionary work is. When I first got to Pecan Park, we were dropped or had to drop so many of the people that Hna Arcila and her previous companion were teaching. So we really did start from scratch. Pecan Park used to cover an additional area as well, but the area was split up. Our area is tiny, smaller than Pasadena. 

We've been knocking this week: Stillwell, Soto Cir, Linden, tracking down formers in apartment complexes: namely willow creek. And we have had miracles! 

We may or may not have a baptism this weekend. We are currently working with a woman named Graciela, she was an investigator Hna Arcila and her previous companion were working with. Graciela is this big sweet woman with long white and blonde hair, she loves cooking for us, and was introduced to the church by her best friend. Graciela is leaving for Honduras for a month this upcomming week, and we're trying to help her be baptized this weekend. She has a testimony, knows that the church is true, but is trying to figure out if she wants to wait till after her trip to Honduras to get baptized or not. Just another kind of 11th our kind of ordeal.

I played piano in sacrament meeting yesterday, didn't completely disrupt the spirit so that was a blessing. Also, I am now the unofficial piano player for relief society and primary so I will probably be bouncing around from classroom to classroom on Sundays. We had a mini miracle last night! I shed some tears last night, and kind of officially said goodbye to Pasadena in a way, I kind of had to break up with it you could say. Hna Arcila had a mini comp inventory (a good kind, not the type you hear horror stories about. I love my companion!) with cupcakes drizzled with cinnamon, and recognized how much the Lord has blessed us. We discussed how we have learned so much already from this companionship, when we're only starting week three. 

Last night, we were trying to visit an investigator. Unfortunately, they had company over so invited us back for another day. As we were walking in the dark to our car, a man called out to us, "A ver cuando me visiten?" "You should come visit me!" Hna Arcila and I had already been grossly hit on earlier, and I was kind of annoyed so in my sassy way I just kind of responded, "sure! We'll come by and visit you." Then the man mentioned, "apostoles y profetas" and I stopped dead in my tracks. I asked him to repeat himself, but couldn't hear him so we walked closer to him. He said, "are you from the church that has Apostles and Prophets? And teaches about Nephi, Mononi, and what's that other guy's name?" Turns out, Carlos, aforementioned Man's name, is from El Salvador and was taught by missionaries back there, was going to church, and really liked it, but since he came here he hasn't been taught. We set up an appointment, gave him our last copy of the Book of Mormon, and went home feeling really happy!

Pecan Park has so much potential, I love this area. In a weird way knocking is now my new favorite thing, and finding has become so much fun. God definitely knew what He was doing when He put Hna Arcila and I together.

te amo y'all! (just a little texas shoutout!)
Hna Flores

former finding in Willow Creek, the massive apartment complex in our area.

E. Tuai and his greenie treated us to happy face pancakes at iHop.

Yaire! The daughter of a woman we're teaching.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Farewell Pasadena!

Thasss a good list! (Hna Tonga & Hna Flores)
1. Elder Conan: "You know the kind of people who go rollerskating?"
Hna Flores: "You know the kind of people who eat fried chicken?"
2. Elder Hatch: "So, I'll be supporting Hufflepuff."
Hna Flores: "Oh okay, Cho Chang!"
3. F vs. K New Year's ward dinner drama
4. "It's the taqueria right next to KFC"
5. Aguacado
6. "Hey Hermana!" --Elder Hatch to the waitress at taqueria mentioned in #4
7. PUDGY!!! & the gang
8. New Missionary Training --> turns out, things aren't as bad as we thouht.
9. Familia Castro. Damian playing with my hair, kissing me, and calling me "mi amor"
10. Zebra pajamas from Hermana Zenih
11. Chinese buffets back to back
12. Victor: "I finished reading in Genesis! I'm starting Exodus."
13. "May I pleased be excused Mom?" --Bryan.
14. "Thass a good question!" "Oooh Hna, you're good, you're gonna be a tough DA!" --Bryan
15. "Y'all believe in the rapture?" --Emmanuel
16. <S>Crying</S> BAWLING in front of Hna Ponce's.
17. Tony's question: "No Mah! I know already! Man I don know!"
18. "Nano, you want to read the book Nano? Read the book!"
19. Hna Perales giving Hna Tonga hih heeled boots.
20. Hna Herrera's story about her mom, faith, and cancer.
21. "Man I hate that you think! Her testimony was easy to understand!" --Elder Ho Ching to Hna Flores
22. "I have to! If not, I look like Cookie Monster"--Emmanuel on his eyebrows
23. Surprise Christmas Eve dinner with the Toscanos and them giving us bracelets.
24. Hna Tonga dropping phone in water=foggy screen for a week
25. Hna Tonga leaving the phone at the Native American medicine woman's home.
26. Question #1 when we knock doors: "Son gemelas?" Question 2: "Son Hermanas?"
27. "That is the most expensive booty you will ever slap" --Elder Davis on bulls
28. Hna Tonga spending $40+ on picures at NASA
29. 873.9 miles for the month!
30. The time the Toscano girls confided in us BIG TIME
32. Priscilla's baptism production--Prom? "Why don't you want to wear high heels?"
33. "YOU SINNERS! DAIRY QUEEN? --Elder Hatch "We bought blizzards for you!" --Hna Flores "Oh! HECK YEAH (insert E. Hatch's high pitched voice) A Valentines day to remember
34. "I've decided I want out!" -L "You were never in!" (Hna Flores y Hna Tonga thought process)
35. "I feel like I was betrayed by a cult!" -L anti-mormon rage
36. New wardrobe and tastiest burgers in Pasadena--Carmen Tuesdays
37. Valentines Day lesson with Hna Gonzalez, spreading the love.
38. " rack?...THE SISTERS!" -- E. Hatch
" rack?...THE ZLs!" --Hna Flores
39. The week we ran at Strawberry park, and Pasadena town square for reasons only known to Hna Tonga and Hna Flores
40. M W F Su= Tonga, T TH Sa= Flores (district leader phone schedule)
41. The time our disctrict bought everyone else McDonalds
42. Charlene= "Yeah, we're kind of not talking...He's in jail."
43. Lessons in being Hna Flores' dad
44. There's a Hawaiian in Pasadena?!?!?! Meeting Uncle Moke #polyconnections
46. Reminiscing with the 30s club-single edition
47. E. Ho Ching's phone call Subway, great <S>minds</S> tummies think alike.
   I'm leaving my birth area! I'm being transferred, and I have no idea where I'm going because all but two (Pasadena & Pecan Park) areas are training, and I didn't get called to train this transfer! I'm really happy that President is giving me a little training break, because so far I've been the only Hna  who trained back to back. phewww. The logical thing would be for me to go to Pecan Park, but Hna Arcila isn't currently serving there, and we're not sure if President is going to put two native Spanish speakers together, so honestly, I'm stumped, but so excited!
   This week was a little slow, I experienced snow days #2 & 3 on the mission because Hna Tonga was out with the flu two days back to back. Let's just say I got very well acquainted with the Bible Dictionary, the first 11 chapters of Genesis, a bit of Revelations, and a whole lot of Book of Mormon and D&C sections. It felt so god to see the sunshine after being cooped up two days in doors.
   I'm so excited and ready to meet the wonderful people of my new area! It feels like prepping for the first day of school all over again! :) But of course, Pasadena will always hold a special espacio en mi corazon!
Te amo!
Hna Flores

My scriptures got a makeover.
Sick day #2 = all day long 
study session. We had cuban burgers (so delicious!) for lunch with the Familia Serrano!
La Familia Toscano's new dog, I think it looks like Chewbacca. :]

Sunday, March 3, 2013

NEWSFLASH: I'm a Spanish Speaking Misionera.

You know how sometimes the Lord tries to send you a message through a number of hints, sometimes not so discreet, but it takes you a couple of times to get it? That happened this week, I had a big, "aha" moment. Hint: It has to do with the title of this blog. While I was being trained, my trainer would always tell us, "You teach a person in English for as long as you can, and if they really can't understand Spanish, then you pass them off."
   This weekend, someone we handed off to the English Elders was baptized, and we also set a baptismal date, had an investigator come to church only to hand them off to the English Elders again. Hna Tonga and I were really talking about this week how sometimes language wards are used more as a way to stick with the "culture" of that language. I grew up in an English ward and I can honestly say that I understood the gospel so much more because I was taught it in my native language. I was able to feel the spirit stronger than I probably would have if my parents had taken us to a Spanish ward, because here's the thing, while I can speak in Spanish, until recently, I normally think in English. There have been a number of events that led Hna Tonga and I to our newest resolution. We are no longer going to teach lessons in English (there are of course a few excpetions to this rule). The following are these events explained in greater detail.
Reasons why Hna Flores & Hna Tonga are going to be teaching only in Spanish
  1. A couple of weeks ago I had to translate the temple president's wife's talk, and headphones were passed out to the congregation. There were only a handful of people actually using headphones, and I thought "Is this translation really necessary?"
  2. Hna Ramirez (a really faithful active member of our ward, her and her kids' families makeup a good chunk of our ward) told us that her and her family are considering moving to the English ward, because really her grandkids are not understanding anything being said at church, so it's hindering their gospel progression rather than helping...
  3. Juaqin accepted a baptismal date, and came to church, but decided he wants to try out an english ward. & how can we blame him, we taught him in English.
  4. The investigator we passed on to the English Elders (his aunt is a less active of our ward) got baptized on Saturday!
  5. Yesterday we met with the Christensen's, a family from one of the English wards and Bro Christensen shared with us that one time he was in a mtg with Elder L. Tom Perry who said something to the extent of, "The reason we have language wards is so that people can be taught the gospel in their own language, but we are all to be of the culture of God."
  6. Two English speaking only members of our ward have gone completely inactive. Granted there are other reasons for this, but really, one of them didn't understand a thing, and had to ask people to translate for her....
& there you have it.
Really quickly, I just wanted to share a little miracle story. Saturday morning, our planned appointment fell through and so we went and stopped by to visit Hna Lopez, an inactive member of our ward who we've been recently really working with. The first time I met Hna Lopez with my old companions, I brought up the question of church attention, and she got SUPER defensive, so much so that for a while I didn't want to go back. She had expressed that she felt no need to go to church.
As I said, we've been working with her on that. Well, on Saturday Hna Tonga and I decided quickly before entering her home that we'd teach the Plan of Salvation. As I said the opening prayer for the lesson I had the distinct clear impression that I should pray for us all to prepare to take the sacrament. When this thought came into my head, I fought it because I kept thinking back to my first encounter with her. It was when I realized that I was being fearful however, that I went ahead and prayed for it. As soon as I was done praying I had another distinct impression that we should read 3 Nephi 18 with Hna Lopez. (3 Nephi 18 talks about Christ instituting the Sacrament in the Americas) We read the verses speaking about the Sacrament and it changed everything. Hna Lopez opened up, we explained clearly what the Sacrament was, and what it wasn't. Explaining especially that the sacrament is not for perfect people, that there is a reason we take it weekly. And at the end we comitted her to 1) prepare herself to come to sacrament mtg and 2) to come to church. & she did both!
I was so happy to see her at Church, the best kind of joy swirled in my heart. & really, Hna Lopez I know was changed just from coming that one time. :]
This weekend we find out what's happening to our companionship, who's staying, who's going. We just got an email from President Crawford that 23 new missionaries are coming this transfer with only 6 leaving. & he's asked us to keep our area books up to date pretending that we are getting flushed out of the area. There are a lot of areas that are being split, a lot of new areas being opened for missionary work, and we have all been asked to find rides to transfer mtg, meaning, that really President is expecting huge changes, and a huge turnout.
Exciting Exciting!
What an exciting time to be a missionary! :]
Con Amor,
Hna Flores
Hna Arcila (Her cousin was in my freshman ward hall at BYU!), Me, Hna Tonga
La Famila Carrasco (Hna's cooking reminds me of my mama's!) We taught her daughter in law (pictured) but had to pass her off to the zone leaders. We love her!
                                           Zone Pday at Strawberry Park in the pouring rain!

The wild cats of Pasadena love me.
Planner for the transfer. :)