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.


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