First off, I am so glad to hear that Mackay got home safely! Keep your chin up, man! I know that you will be back out there real soon! I am praying for you constantly and know that whatever happens is the Lord´s will. Keep me updated. I loved hearing from you and to know that you are still doing your studies and everything. Keep it up! You are an amazing missionary and I learned so much from you. Please know that I love and pray for you. You will be back in the field before you know it! Just think... you will be meeting people in the last 4 months that you would not have had the chance to meet otherwise. That´s cool! I wanted to share something that President Gulbrandsen sent us all this week in his letter:
Elder Hales teaches the following:
“I have often pondered, Why is it that the Son of God and His holy prophets and all the faithful Saints have trials and tribulations, even when they are trying to do Heavenly Father’s will? Why is it so hard, especially for them?
As we ask these questions, we realize that the purpose of our life on earth is to grow, develop, and be strengthened through our own experiences. How do we do this? The scriptures give us an answer in one simple phrase: we “wait upon the Lord.” Tests and trials are given to all of us. These mortal challenges allow us and our Heavenly Father to see whether we will exercise our agency to follow His Son.
In your daily Christlike ministry, you are waiting upon the Lord and doing your Heavenly Father’s will. His assurance to you is clear: “inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” He knows your sacrifices and your sorrows. He hears your prayers. His peace and rest will be yours as you continue to wait upon Him in faith.
I know that is true! The Lord loves you and He has a plan. You are such a great missionary and will only become a more effective servant of the Lord in this time!
Well... another week to take a big breath and jump right in!!! I think that I decided that the best way to do this is to go day by day...
Pday! We got a bunch of stuff done, and towards the end of the day, the assistants called us to invite us to the leadership trainings with President on Tuesday and Wednesday in San Fernando.
TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY
Got up at 5:30 AM to be out the door by 7. We rode our bikes to the church and caught a bus from there. We took the bus an hour and a half to San Fernando, getting there around 9. With the walk to the church, we were in our seats around 9:20 to study and prepare. The conference went from 10 to 3:30 and was AWESOME... more on that later... then it was back on the bus! We got back around 6 with walking, waiting for the bus, etc. Then we had only 3 hours to teach a couple of great lessons until it was time to head home.
Weekly planning. Hermana Dunn was also sick (still is, de verdad), but she was a trooper and we got through it. Planning here is very detailed, so it takes the better part of the day. We were teaching by 4. at 8:30 that night, we found out that all of the youth and leaders were going to Pilar on Saturday to practice the dance for the cultural celebration of the Temple... witch is AWESOME, but meant that Yenifer would be there... and so we couldn´t have the baptism of Milagros... so we had to frantically change everything to have it Friday... the only catch is that we also had Zone Conference...
Another 5:30 wake up and trip in to San Fernanado for Zone Conference (which was also FANTASTIC and more on that later). We had permission from President to leave early so that we could make it to the baptism... so, we made phone calls during our lunch break to make sure that everyone was doing their assignment (filling the font, ironing clothes, etc.) that we would usually do, but couldn´t... we headed out from there at 3:30. Well... Friday was Independence day here, so the buses didn´t pass all that often... we finally got back to the church at 6 for the baptism that was going to start at 5:30!! haha. But, the ward was AWESOME and had everything good to go! We just made sure Milagros was ready and took pictures and got started. The baptism was beautiful! Milagros was so happy and it was so great to see the Barroso family, now with all the girls members! So neat to help complete this family! There is truly nothing like seeing the miracles of the Lord and getting to take part in them! By the time the baptism was over, we had to have a quick missionary coordination with our ward mission leader and then it was already 9 and we had to head home...
Our only "normal" day! haha. We taught the WHOLE day! haha. It was nice to get back to normal and apply all the things we learned in conference...
Milagros was confirmed!!! We passed by her house early in the morning, only to find that they had all already left because they didn´t want to be late. We got there, and they were all sitting reverently, preparing for the meeting! So wonderful! Milagros received a beautiful blessing, including that she would one day enter the Temple and become a MISSIONARY!!!!! SO neat! The spirit was so strong. Hermana Dunn and I both sat and cried through the whole thing.
WOO!! What a week, no? It was really great, though! We are tired, but happy.
Now for some details:
The trainings and zone conferences were fantastic.
In the trainings, we talked a lot about how we can choose to be creatures who ACT or creatures who are acted upon and how we will only see success when we choose to ACT! We learned about how to gain revelation, how to act on that, and how to have faith of POWER. We did practices of teaching, which we have really improved a lot this week because of doing them. We talked about the importance of teaching with questions and the scriptures. Also, a lot about doing the small and simple things that will make all the difference. The big focus was on Sacrament meeting attendance, which has really dropped these past couple of weeks and how to improve it. I know that we can do it! We have set many goals and made many plans so that we can improve the numbers in Sacrament meeting. We know that we will see the blessings.
Then, there was zone conference. WOW! It was exactly what I needed! President focused the entire thing on the Atonement. Hermana Gulbrandsen started it out by talking about the living water and how we all have thirst of some kind. She told a story that was once shared in conference about a ship that broke down in the ocean and drifted for days. The people began dying for thirst as they hoped and waited for help. Finally, another ship was in sight and they signaled for water. The other ship responded "let down your buckets." The first did not understand... "No," they said, "We need FRESH water to drink... not salt water." To which, the second ship replied "Let down your buckets!" What the first ship did not know was that in these days, they had drifted into a fresh water lake that fed into the ocean. It is the same with us... many people are kept from the truth, for they know not where to find it. WE are the ones who have to help them see where the water is, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Then, President started talking about the Atonement. He didn´t even mention missionary work directly. He talked about some experiences that he has had, especially with losing his son. We read and analyzed Alma 7 all about the Atonement. President told us that the Savior knows every pain, trial, sickness, weakness, etc. and we talked about what it means to SUCCOR... literally to run to. Then, President told us that when The Savior was in the most pain and wanted so badly to have the cup taken from Him, that He saw every one of our faces individually, and THAT is what gave Him the strength to keep going... US. Wow! I was (big surprise) crying when President did something I was NOT expecting... he invited Elder Araboa and I to sing "Asombo me da" (I stand all amazed). Wow... that was an AMAZING experience... First of all, I think that even Lucy´s voice could sound good next to Elder Araboa (yes... you are right... Devin´s cousin... remember his voice??? Ya... I was a bit intimidated at first). But it actually turned out well... the first verse was a bit rough cuz we were both pretty emotional, but then we just both really felt the Spirit and it came out well... especially for just being put on the spot! haha. It was a really wonderful experience. It had been a LOOONG time since I had sung like that. Well, after, I was heading back to my seat and President asked me to bear my testimony about the Savior. I know that he knew that that is just what I needed, and it was really special for me. I had been thinking about Mackay all morning, and it was really neat to be able to testify of the Savior, and remember myself. He asked one other Elder to share his testimony too and then we kept going with the conference and talked about how it was so important that our investigators feel what we were feeling in that moment. That was really neat. We then spent much of the conference focused on what it is that we need to feel as missionaries, what the investigators need to feel, and what the members need to feel. President told us that this understanding ONLY comes by revelation and that if we don´t understand, we will not be able to be the missionaries that we should be. That was powerful. I am working on understanding and gaining this revelation.
Well, needless to say, we had a great week! The only downer is that we didn´t have a ton of investigators in church, but we are going to improve there. We have prayed a lot and have set some really great goals and plans.
Hermana Dunn is awesome. She is really just phenomenal! I am so happy for the time that we have together!
Cristina is doing awesome! She went to church for the 3rd time yesterday, so she is good to go for her baptism on Saturday! So neat to see how she has changed in this month. She is a really special woman, truly prepared to receive these things. The other night, we taught he about tithing, and at the beginning, she told us that she has never understood tithing. Well, putting in to practice what we learned about teaching with questions and scriptures, focusing on the doctrine rather than just gicing information, and listening more than talking, at the end of the lesson, she asked US before we could commit her to paying tithing how to do it and when. She said that it´s the first time that she can accept and understands the principle of tithing. So neat!!!
We found out on Sunday that President Monson will be coming for the rededication of the Temple September 9th!!! WOW!!!
My package got here!!! Thank you SOOOO much! I love everything in it! We are definitely going to make brownies this week! Also, when we opened the box and started going through it, we picked up the bag and I was so excited! Hermana Dunn said "What is that!!!??? It smells just like CHRISTMAS!!" We have really been enjoying the Wassil. If you could activate my card, that would be great, but not today... I left it in the house and I only have my old one and I am going to need to use it... I am really sorry that I will have to take money out, but I really need some new tights. After 6 months of wearing the same 4 pairs of tights, they are all pretty thrashed. Sorry! I am not positive that we will have time to do it today, but I am going to try. But if you could activate the card tomorrow or so that would be great! I don´t think I´ll be using it any time soon, so no rush. Thank you SOOO much for the package! Kadon, it looks like Legoland was so much fun! I loved the pictures. You are getting so tall! Thank you, thank you for all of the great things. We are enjoying the dried cherries and granola bars and using the super cute Book of Mormon stories. THANK YOU!!!
Well... thanks for listening! Sorry that this got kind of long! Sounds like you are all doing well. I can´t believe that Jordan is graduating. Enjoy your time in Idaho! Send everyone my love! Hope you all enjoy your summer... can´t believe that the year is over. I also want to send congrats to all my friends who are graduating this year from college. So proud of all of you!
Quick note to friends,
I love you all SOOOO much! Thank you for your emails. I am sorry that I don´t write more... I have a bunch of letters ready to go and I promise that I will be sending letters home next week. Please know that I love you and I love hearing from you each week. Thank you for your love and support. I hope that all is well. Keep me updated!
Quick note to Hermana Gonzalez...
WE LOVE YOU!!! We hope all is well.. if you get a chance, drop us a line :) LOVE YOU! Are you in Alaska? Did that all work out? How is your family and everyone?
I love you all so much! I love our Savior, Jesus Christ. I know that He lives and that He loves us. I know that we are lead by a prophet of God. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I have loved reading it. I am a bit behind (just started Alma) but I know that I will finish it in time. I love that I am truly coming to know my Savior more fully through this invitation to read it again cover to cover. I love the gospel. I know with all my heart that the Church is true. Something really neat is that we have the chance to testify of the Savior EVERY day! I realized that our testimony has to be very strong. I have realized that there isn´t a single day that has passed in my mission that someone hasn´t questioned my testimony or even what we do... but the thing is, I don´t even flinch. I know that all we teach is the pure truth and I cannot doubt it. I love the gospel!
Thank you all for all you do! I love you all so much!!!
Pictures are of Milgro's baptism