Monday, March 31, 2014

homecoming soiree.

I'm easing back into my past life of normalcy. This includes, but is not limited to my past fiesta throwing ways. My mom was kind enough to give me a few nudges encouraging me to help her with the little details of a homecoming soiree she had been planning for me. 

I'm still not ready for huge gatherings, so we made the event small inviting coworkers and high school friends. Everything was simple we mostly used things we already had lying around. My parents found the cart in the first picture below just chillin' on the side of the street waiting to be thrown away. They managed to save it and give it a wonderful new home.

Originally my parents were thinking of having hamburgers, and y'all know how obsessed I am with hamburgers (<3 <3 <3), but I suggested we go with the BBQ classic of pulled pork sandwiches. We had a menu that will make your mouth water: coleslaw, mac & cheese, french fries, baked beans, and a 4 ingredient peach cobbler I found online. 

My friend Jen as soon as she stepped outside to our backyard looked at the set up and then turned to me and said, "Yup. You're back!" 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

on next chapters.

journals up to this point. The first one dates back to '96! huzzah!
hello world!!!

I have returned from the greatest journey of my life [up to this point]. I've spent the last week trying to figure out how this upgraded version of myself fits in with all the things I left behind.

Yesterday was spent dejunking my bedroom.  I mean it when I say dejunk. 
I cleared away pictures I had of old crushes, piles upon piles of my favorite teen magazines, and origami folded notes from friends dating back from the high school/middle school days. 

I'm currently trying to figure out what to do with the letters I mailed home from the mission along with the 5 boxes of old photographs that are currently just collecting dust in my closet. 

Any suggestions?

As for "adjusting," I'm trying to figure out if these little quirks I've developed are partly phases or if I've acquired them as part of my personality. 

Case in point: I have no desire to watch TV. 
I spent some time wikipedia-ing (I might have just made that a word?) the plots for some of the shows I used to watch. I kind of walked away from that experience thinking, "did I really use to watch that garbage?"
I also can't for the life of me sit still through a movie.

I am still kind of sort of a sister missionary at heart. 

The sisters in my home wards (fam & YSA) are my current bffs. I feel like I can communicate with them. I talk color-coding, area books, whitewashing, leadership, and finding. They speak my language! Or I speak there's? 
I'm kind of in denial about the fact that I'm now an "outsider." I still really crave the mission world.
I also may or may not still gravitate to a sister missionary wardrobe. Last night I ran to the mall and my eye caught a glimpse of a red-orange knee length skirt. I tried to talk myself out of buying it, but in the end, the skirt won. I bought pants too! But, my Mom did have to talk me into wearing the pants I bought and not the skirt. for shame.

I can't bring myself to get rid of the "y'all" I picked up down south. I'm trying so hard, but it just rolls off the tip of my tongue. Can everyone please just adopt this so I don't feel as awkward?

I was SUPER bummed to discover that google reader was discontinued! All of my blogs are gone. GONE. However, maybe that's a good thing? So friends, if you have a blog and we are real-life friends, will you please remind me of your URL?

In some ways I am the same, but in others I'm different. 

Evolved is a good word.
I like it.
My interests and perspective on life have shifted and things that once interested me just seem so mundane and pointless now. Dare I put the fb under this category? Probably.

I kind of see facebook for what it was created to be, not this monster that it's become.

& blogging! Dear blogging when did you become so money/materialistic oriented?
Megfee put it so perfectly here.

To those who read while I was away in Texas & Louisiana thank you for sharing that adventure with me!

& now:

What this blog is & what this blog isn't.
If we are friends outside of the viral world, the things I post are meant to be read as my letters to you! 
(hence blog title)
Also, if we hang out, pictures are posted on here. I really REALLY dislike posting pictures on the fb.


I'm not out to make money
I'm not out to gain sponsors
I don't need a lot of "followers"
& I'm not here to host giveaways

p.s. as always, let's be friends!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

lasts from the mission...

Monday, March 17, 2014

on lasts.

The word "last" sounds so definite. It has such a resonating ring of finality. "Last" is more than a mile past the point of no return. I've always founds "lasts" to be so inspiring: last chapters, last songs, last times, last games, and especially last words. Some of the most powerful passages of the Book of Mormon for me have always been the final remarks of prophets who leave counsel to the readers whom they love, entrusting them to the Lord.
I am no prophet.
I am simply a soon to be returned sister missionary who is trying to sum up what she has learned on her 18 month journey in the service of the Lord.

1. God's love is perfect 1 Nephi 11:17
I have further learned to rely on the truth that Heavenly Father loves us all equally. I still remember sitting in a Burger King after a district meeting in Baytown and saying as I had an epiphany, "Heavenly Father loves Hitler just as much as he loves Thomas S. Monson!" Laugh at my child-like extreme example if you will, but it's true! The Lord is no respecter of persons. All the time when things just didn't seem to turn out, when I saw people I had grown to love make life changing decisions, when it seemed as though He just didn't care, I would tell myself "Heavenly Father's love is perfect. Everything he does has the motive of love back behind it."

2. The Lord gives us talents to bless the lives of others, weaknesses to bless our own Ether 12:27
I would always ask before the mission what it was exactly that made a mission hard. I would never truly get a true answer. I now understand why...Because of the above statement. A mission is perfectly tailored to be a growing experience for YOU. It becomes your refiner's fire. Both my talents and weaknesses were magnified causing me to strive to consecrate my all, but also to delve into the depths of humility depending on the Savior and his Atonement for sustaining power. It has been challenging, but it has helped me to grow at an unprecedented rate. 

3. My purpose has been and always will be the same Moses 1:39
One of the greatest epiphany's of my mission was discovering the following, "If I am trying to become like God, then shouldn't His purpose be my purpose?" God is the ultimate purpose-driven being, he never loses sight of His purpose. All that He does, He does to direct my life and to help me obtain immortality and eternal life. He does this for all his children. Though my 18 months of full-time missionary service may end, my desire to be like my Father in Heaven doesn't, thus my purpose remains the same. While I may no longer be a missionary in Texas/Louisiana, my purpose will still be "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."

1. Strengthen the sisters of T.H.E Mission & learn from my time with them D&C 84:106
I have SUCH a testimony that I came to the mission precisely at the time that God needed me to & at the time that I needed me to. I have always had a desire to serve a mission & when it came time for my 21st birthday the question came, "should I serve at 21 and defer a year of college or graduate and then enter the field?" I prayed, contemplated, and chose the latter. The next hurdle, waiting for my papers to be turned in. The Lord definitely determined when it is that my papers would go through and what time I should enter the field.

The age change occurred after I had been out less that 3 weeks  in the mission field, I wrote in my journal on that day, "this changes EVERYTHING!" Complete understatement. My mission turned into something different than I could have ever imagined. I am so thankful to have experienced it. I have been in a cycle of never-ending training. & I saw a fulfillment of Pres. Hinckley's words, "we can not expect to lift others, unless we stand on higher ground ourselves." To those who were my companions, THANK YOU!

2. To learn to accept the "but if nots" in life. Daniel 3:17-18
What is a "but-if-not" you may ask? A but-if-not is ultimate faith that Heavenly Father can do something, and if He doesn't, it does not change just exactly change His capabilities as a God. Time and time again Heavenly Father has taught me that His plans for me are better than anything I could come up with myself. Life has a lot of "but if nots" to throw at me, but they've helped me to depend more upon Heavenly Father and trust that his plan ultimately is perfect. I am convinced and I can guarantee that I have not finished experiencing all the "but-if-nots" that life has to offer, but I have come away from this experience a lot more prepared to face them.

3. For purposes and designs not yet understood D&C 58:3-4
I 100% believe that the mission prepares you for the rest of this mortal life and eternity quite like nothing else can. I am so excited to put into practice everything that I have learned here in this hallowed place. 

Lastly, I just want to leave y'all (:] ) with my testimony. That I know the Savior lives, I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored, I know that Heavenly Father's perfect plan of salvation was created for families. I love the Book of Mormon with all my heart I learn from it daily. This is truly Christ's church and we are truly our Father in Heaven's spirit children. 

Con Amor, 
Hna turned Sis Lauren Marie Flores

The Ortiz' :]
Oh just holding baby alligators! :)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

embrace it.

I had a sleepover at the mission home this week. Sisters Larsen, Conder, and I had to head up to Kingwood Monday night in order to make it to MLC the next morning. It was just so nice to quietly sit on an armchair basking in the spirit, writing in my journal in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. MLC was all about improving. I just felt so grateful to be a part of it all. Zone by zone presented ideas that they had and things they had implemented to hasten the work. We were gathered to see how we can improve on finding God's elect, finding and teaching those whom the Lord has prepared. 

Speaking of prepared people. 
This week we taught a woman named *Rosa. Rosa became SUPER interested after we came into her home and explained that the Book of Mormon was another testament of Jesus Christ written by prophets here in the ancient Americas. Rosa was raised Catholic, but doesn't ascribe to any particular religion. We had left her with a Book of Mormon after our first meeting and she was so eager to discuss it and learn more of it's origin. We shared with her Ezek 37:19 and how the Book of Mormon is a fulfillment of that prophecy. Rosa already believes that this land is for the posterity of Joseph and she had a dropped jaw as we explained that Christ has personally come to visit the people here in the Americas. She kept exclaiming high-pitched but drawn out, "yeah!" and gasps every now and then. 

We saw Andrea again this week. Twice! We met her boyfriend. She is progressing so well, and this week we're hoping to set that baptismal date of April 19th. Probably the highlight of this week with Andrea is that she sent us a text asking if we would choose a scripture verse for her to write out on her arm for her games this weekend. We went for the classic: 

"Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever."Alma 26:12

We have been visiting Bro. Ortiz Sr everyday this week, but short 15 min visits helping him to better understand what we have already taught. In weekly planning we thought we'd focus on teaching him towards the baptismal interview questions however, as the week progressed on we realized that really, we simply needed to use the Book of Mormon to help him understand who God is, who Jesus Christ is. We need to use the Book of Mormon to help him become converted to the gospel.

I presented on a similar topic in Zone Mtg. The Zone leaders asked if I would give 20min presentations on personal study. Personal study is quite possibly my favorite aspect of missionary work. I definitely get on my own personal soapbox from time to time testifying of the blessings of a good personal study. :) I have such a testimony that it is through the use of scriptures that we are able to have success. 

I found this scripture at the start of my mission, but it has been the driving force for my personal studies.
"Yea, I say unto you, were it not for these things that these records do contain, which are on these plates, Ammon and his brethren could not have convinced so many thousands of the Lamanites of the incorrect tradition of their fathers; yea, these records and their words brought them unto repentance; that is, they brought them to the knowledge of the Lord their God, and to rejoice in Jesus Christ their Redeemer.
And who knoweth but what they will be the means of bringing many thousands of them..." Alma 37:9-10

I am so full. I am so happy. I am overjoyed with my mission. I am thrilled by the idea that in a matter of days I can go home and apply to my life all that I have learned in the past 18 months (&then some). I have such a testimony of the Lord's timing. I was rereading my pre-mission journals and got teary-eyed reading all the trouble I had to go through to get my mission papers turned in. I kept saying, "there's got to be some kind of reason for my mission papers getting delayed!" I know firmly that I came out exactly when I needed to, to be companions with the hnas/sisters that I have. The Lord's timing is so perfect! I also have such a testimony that March 19th is the day I'm supposed to go home. I openly embrace that reality. 

Thank you to each of you who have prayed for me, who have served with me, who have helped me these past 18 months. I love each and everyone of you!

Te amo!
Sis Flores

MLC roadtrip!

Monday, March 3, 2014


I got to see my beloved Baytown again this week! Although of COURSE while I was serving in Baytown we had to drive 100 mi to get to sisters training in Beaumont, and this time I had to drive 240mi round trip to get to sisters training in Baytown. Oh, and we were still under miles. Huzzah. I realize that the above paragraph is strictly a #statesidemissionaryproblem, but I'm sure someone will appreciate it. 

It was SO amazing to see how many sisters there are now in the mission. My first sisters training I believe there were about 20 of us and we fit into one room in the Kingwood chapel. I feel so spoiled because not only have I been able to see "Mama Rosie" from Broadway 3, but I saw almost all of my favorite members from the branch in Baytown since they served the lunch for sisters training. 

I am thoroughly convinced that we have some of the best investigators here in Lake Charles. For example, Andrea. Love her. Weirdly, sports teams here are super religious. Apparently everyone on her team writes scriptures on their arms to motivate them during games. Andrea chose the following verse to write on her arm:

"But it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even give me strength that I may burst these bands with which I am bound." 1 Nephi 7:17

We love her. 
She readily accepted the Word of Wisdom and we've seen her testimony grow. Now if we can just get her a solid baptismal date I will be a happy sister missionary. 

The Myers family. 
They are just never going to not come to church again. They are now super involved and the ward members have just completely reached out to them, we're talking sleepovers, baptism invitations, ward party assignments, the works. Am I sad not to be here for the baptism, somewhat. But as I sat next to them this Sunday at church I just felt so happy. So grateful that I got to be a part of their journey back to church. What I was feeling on Sunday went so perfectly with what our Stake President said over the pulpit this week. As is to be expected everyone who bore their testimony spoke about the support and love they felt from their "ward family" our Stake President later got up to say, "If this is really your family, then make this home." I just loved that. The chapel, the ward is home. Some of my happiest memories have been at that "home" whether it's been my home located in North Long Beach or my home located in downtown Cerritos. My ward is my home. There's a reason we call them Home Wards...

Lastly, just want to leave you with a hilarious update from Richard the less-active we've been working with. He texted us Sunday before church to let us know that he had read his assigned three chapters in the Book of Mormon that we had assigned him and that he was excited to see us on Wednesday. We texted back Richard, are you coming to church today? He said, "I'm on my way to (insert his current non-denom church)... To that 'great and spacious building'." So hilarious. The thing is he KNOWS. We just need to help him take that first step back to church. 

Also, this week I went on exchanges with the sisters in Vidor, TX. Okay, literally I've been pretty much everywhere in the mission. All across it. Highlights of the exchange. Well, may or may not have met a man who told us we were going to hell. (It's only the second time in my mission that that's happened, first was with Hna Maughan. Remember that time?) Also met a family who mostly just wanted to Bible Bash. Colorful exchange, but you just have to love all of it!

I know I say this a whole lot. But I sure do love my mission!
& y'all! Te amos!
Sis Flores

posterity pictures. So classic. My lil mission family tree. :)
Okay, can you appreciate the cleverness of the whole, "Give your old cell phone a new calling" ? Missionary humor. I know, we're cheesy.
Ricky's burgers!!!