Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Emily sent the following email and photos on Monday, April 28, 2014:

Hey, it's me. 

This week has been up and down.  The missionary work has been down, but the other parts have been up. 

We contact basically all the time because we don't have any investigators because we drop all the people that don't answer our phone calls and never answer the door when we go.  Lately in our contacting, we haven't had very many people turning into potentials (agreeing to talk to us).  The last two days we started softening up our message and then more people started saying yes.  I hate that we have to do this, but then when I remember how it feels to be a person, I can see that if someone told me there was only one true church and that it wasn't mine, I wouldn't be very excited to welcome them into my home. 

We've also been trying to think of better ways to help them feel the spirit when they are with us.  The mission usually has a way that they would like you to contact and they keep switching it when one way proves very ineffective. 
Mauricio ditched out on us again.  The last 30 hours before church, he doesn't answer texts or phone calls.  I was sure he was going to come yesterday.  And the lesson would have been perfect for him. It was about the covenant people of the lord and the covenant God made with Abraham. 

We went to Mauricio's house and found him in his front hard drinking with his friend.  We could've had a pretty harsh slap down, but instead I just talked to him and told him that we'd come back next week and help him make plans so he would be able to come to church.  I told him it would be good for him. 

On the up side, Teodoro got baptized and it was a really nice service.  Yolanda his wife was there and the members that were being their friends were very loving to them.  They actually gathered at Teodoro's house afterwards and we had some really yummy guatemalteca food.  They were all so loving and friendly!  Sometimes I walk out of moments like that and it blows my mind that I just was in a small little house with 12 Guatemalans all speaking Spanish and laughing. 
Teodoro is standing next to Emily.  Emily loves him!
We helped clean up the LA River.  It took a lot of the day and it seemed to be a very big political public relation stunt. There were a lot of announcements made just for show and the mayor stopped by and had a filmed segment.  That was enjoyable because it was different and I got to see my other missionary friends that are serving in other areas.  Today we will get to see basically all my friends because they organized a zone activity and invited the Reseda district.  We will be doing some sort of water activity and playing sports outside!

Elder Norman had an investigator that moved into our area after the LA River activity so we went and helped them move in.  We be going back soon to find out what all their interest levels are and if we will be able to help them progress. 
Sam is leaving pretty soon, right?

Dallin H. Oaks is coming to our stake conference in one week.  That will be crazy because we go to a Spanish stake so either he will have a translator or he will be speaking in Spanish.  They have been advertising it as a member of the seventy that will be with us, but it is one of the doce!

The rumors are that he will be bringing ipads!  That is crazy!  I don't really think we need them though!  They might just be too flashy to have around here.  I feel like people would trust us more with our little planners and a pencil.  We don't need missionaries getting jumped, but I guess they know what they are doing.  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Emily sent us the following email on Monday, April 21, 2014:

Hey familia! 

I hope you had such a fun Easter and I hope you had fun coloring eggs!  You are going to need to send me some pictures of the eggs! 

Mom and dad, you guys should read the talk by Gordon B. Hinckley called the four cornerstones of Faith.  It talks about how the 4 cornerstones are Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith's first vision, The Book of Mormon, and the Priesthood.  This is simplified, but something I loved from the section about the first vision says, "This transcendent experience opened the marvelous work of restoration.  It lifted the curtain on the long-promised dispensation of the fulness of times."......"For more than a century and a half, enemies, critics, and some would-be scholars have worn out their lives trying to disprove the validity of that vision.  Or course they cannot understand it.  The things of God are understood by the Spirit of God.  There had been nothing of comparable magnitude since the Son of God walked the earth in mortality."

About the Book of Mormon, I love the part that says, "The evidence for its truth, for its validity in a world that is prone to demand evidence, lies not in archaeology or anthropology, though these may be helpful to some.  It lies not in word research or historical analysis, though these may be confirmatory.  The evidence for its truth and validity lies within the covers of the book itself.  The test of its truth lies in reading it.  It is a book of God.  Reasonable people may sincerely question its origin, but those who have read it prayerfully have come to know by a power beyond their natural sense that it is true, that it contains the word of God, that it outlines saving truths of the everlasting gospel, that it came forth by the gift and power of God...to the convincing of the jew and the gentile that Jesus is the Christ.” 

Something I read a little bit ago that I really liked about the Book of Mormon is that reading scriptures brings a quiet confirmation that we too can overcome difficulty and doubts that seem insurmountable. 

When Elder Richards came and talked to us he showed us a video that I think is called 'Sanctify Yourselves' by Elder Holland.  When I watched this video, I was very touched and overcome with the faith that is required to exercise the Priesthood.  Faith can be procured, but by the nature of faith, it tends to be something that is instinctive--meaning that either it is there, simply,  without effort or that it would require great effort to obtain.  Or maybe everyone has faith but the values of this world create a mask of skepticism and cynicism that make us feel like we don't have strong faith. 

One of the ways we can know that we have strong faith is because we trusted the plan that God set up for us and we left out home in Heaven. 

I was reading in the gospel principles book about final judgement and there were some things that stood out to me quite strongly.  First, I don't think I fully understood that there was actually a book of life that was kept in heaven that would be brought out at our judgment to aid in where we go.  We--ourselves--are also a record of our lives.  This record is written by ourselves in our own minds. 

Under the people that are going to go do the celestial kingdom, it says "Ellos son los que han vendico al mundo por medio de la fe" (these are they that have overcome the world by way of faith). 

Under the part about being judged for our words, works and thoughts, I like the part that says: while we repent of our sins and put behind us all thoughts and acts impure, the spirit will effect a change in our heart so that we will not have any more desire to sin.  I like that it says he effects a change in us.  It is like we do what we can, and then our efforts are consecrated and he purifies what we have left over.  This part goes on to say: Then when we are judged we will be prepared to enter into the presence of God.  I like that is says we will be ready to be with him.  I want to live my life in a way that makes me be excited to rush to the presence of God. 

At the end of the chapter, it says: in reality every day is a judgement and we should live in harmony with a celestial law.  Part of the culture here makes it so the people cannot understand the nature of eternal laws and that God requires that we put off the natural man by cleaving to a strict attitude of obedience.  It is hard for them to understand that there are necessary refining processes where they will feel themselves taking more control of themselves.  It is hard for them to understand that in addition to being merciful, he will be just also.  I think we even can return to the knowledge that strictness is required of us and every minute we spend here on earth during our 4 minutes matter.

I read a scripture this week and I can't remember where it is, but it said something about how we will choose the kingdom that we go to.  NO, no, no, it was something else.  Let me look and see if I can find it...(10 minutes later) Alma 3:26, 27  It just says that you act in a way so that you can receive happiness of misery according with the spirit that you you want to obey.  So that could be either with the spirit of obedience that you let excite you or it could be being obedient to the spirit.  I mean, there are so many different things this scripture can tell you. 

We were knocking doors (we do a lot of that) and knocked on someone's door and she told us she followed more a pattern of indigenous worship.  (Native American?)  Immediately, I knew what to do!  I asked her if she believed in the great spirit.  She replied: yes.  Then I told her that this was God.  #alma18:26-28

Teodoro passed his baptismal interview and will be baptized in a week from yesterday.

We got two of our menos activo families to church on Sunday. 

I am loving the endorphins I get from biking.  Our car is in the shop so we have only had bikes as of lately and I LOVE IT!  This area is better to be biked anyway!

I am excited to skype you or something!  We'll figure that out when it happens!  There is still an email time in between now and then to let you know how it will go down.  Worse case scenario I will just make a phone call in the evening :)

I was told by a companion that I only have 7 months left on my mission and that scared me a lot because I never want to come back into the real world.  I feel like I am the type of person that could potentially get panicky as my time here ticks down.  I am instead going to channel all that energy into improving and being diligent.  Ah!  Here we come!

I love you and I will talk to you soon!

Love, Emma

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Emily sent us the following pictures and email on Monday, April 14, 2014:

L-R:  German, Francisca, Hna. Clifton, Erik, Hna. Blankinship, Hna. Emily
German and Francisca came and found me at general conference!   Apparently they'd been looking forward to this for a long time and Francisca brought tamales for me to take home and eat.  They are doing so good and being such faithful members.  It's crazy because people hardly even know anything before they get baptized.  The conversion comes after and the baptism is still just an act of faith.   [Emily taught German & Francisca in her first area.  They were baptized just before Em was transferred.  Emily loves them dearly, and I think they feel the same way about her. :) ]

This is Sweet Teodoro.  This is the Saturday of general conference and we wanted him to go to the priesthood session.  We passed by his house about an hour before so we could teach him and help him understand how cool it would be to hear the words of a living day profeta.  

I know it's kinda hard to tell, but this man is little and the most tender person I've ever met!  We talked to him and then when we asked him if someone could pick him up to take him to the session, he had to decline because he was right in the middle of cleaning and getting food ready for his wife who would be coming home from dialysis and the rest of his family members that were expecting him to have things ready.  And he is just a little guy with lots of things to do.  He has a lot of health issues and he is still so genuinely happy and delights in the small things.  His health is really bad right now.  He has been having really bad head and intestine pain because he has had prostate cancer for the last 5/6 years and then he fell last week.  He picked up some medicine but I don't know if it is doing anything for him.  Sometimes my heart hurts for him because he is so tender and he is in pain and he is the most faithful and joyful investigator we visit.

At first we didn't know how to react to him telling us that he wasn't going to come.  After a minute we decided that we should pray and ask Heavenly Father what he thought Teodoro should do.  We let him say the prayer and it was the most precious thing I've ever been a part of.  

He knelt down on this little knees and, bowing his head and holding his hands in his lap, he offered the most sincere prayer: 

Padre nuestro, te pedimos este día por tu ayuda porque tengo muchas cosas de hacer y yoli (Yolanda is his esposa) va a regresar y necesito hacer comida y limiar y solo estoy yo aquí de manejar todas esas cosas.  Y padre gracias por las hermanitas que están y por la lucha que están haciendo que yo vaya y se que quieres que tenga tu espíritu solo es que necesito ayuda y no hay alguien otro que solo yo de hacer esas cosas.  

(Heavenly Father, we ask you this day for your help because I have lots of things to do and Yoli is going to return and I need to make food and clean and it's only me here to do all these things.  And thank you for the hermanitas here and that they are in the fight that I go and I know that you want me to have your spirit.  It's just that I I need your help and there isn't anyone else except me to do all these things.)

Whenever we come to his house he just gets so excited and calls out "Hermanitas!"  and then he says "boy a bajar me libro!" (I'm going to bring down my book) and then he goes over to the stairs and takes off his little mexi platform worker shoes and walks up the carpeted stairs.  When he returns from the upstairs he slips his feet back into his little shoes and comes over all ready to read and excited to show us what parts he's read since we saw him last.  Teodoro is remarkable because he understands the message and he understands what we talk about.  After the priesthood session of conference he asked me why they had said that una persona necessita las lllaves para user el sacerdocio (why a person needs 'keys' to use the priesthood).  He thinks about everything he hears and I help him understand everything we talk about in principios del evangelio at church.  

[These pictures show that Emily is still mischievous and loves to have fun!]

We thought it would be fun to hesusify the elder's door.  They live in our area, and we had a bunch of junk cards that don't have any numbers or websites on them so.....tada!

Emily & her 2 companions, with Enio, a recent convert.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Emily sent us the following email on Monday, April 7, 2014:

Hey familia!

Nothing changed with our companionship this last transfer.  We've all got at least one more transfer in Arleta!

General Conference weekend is always really nice because you can get the social nourishment that you crave and just go without.  I got to talk with some of my favorite people from my last district and that was really nice!  We will have 3 new elders in our district and I'm hoping some of my friends can come fill these spots!  They are taking pacoima back and giving it to an elders companionship which will be good. 

We are being given a chance to grow.  We are having no success and almost no investigators.  We talk to many people and even though our contacting has improved, we aren't seeing the fruits yet.  I feel like we have to build up a history of working really hard before God can bless us with any success.  Because of my companion's health problems and such, it hasn't felt like we've done much missionary work lately and so there is no way that God can let us have success until we prove ourselves for a while and start deserving it.  I'm trying to not be discouraged. 

I know that God calls prophets and apostles.  True seekers of truth should be searching for the church that most resembles the church that Jesus Christ established.  It seems only clear to me that this is the Church of Jesus Christ.  There are no other churches on the earth that even kind-of follow the commandments.  Something that is very true of the population we teach in California is that they like to have their own version of God (like was said in one of the talks).  They like to assign him  characteristics that they would like him to have.  We have talked to a lot of people that have no interest in religion and don't want to change to live the commandments and they don't seem to care that this is the only way to return to Heavenly Father. 

I liked in conference how they said that people chose to follow this gospel once before and we should have faith that they will choose it again. 

I liked the analogy about how the load gave the truck the traction that it needed to get out of the snow. 

My favorite talk was President Monson's about loving people and telling them and showing them.  It's easy to look over things like that when we are happy or when our lives are easy.  It's easy to take that advice and have it leave your mind quickly because it's something we feel like we know.  We need to treat it more like the valued and profound conclusion that it is.  We need to notice ourselves doing things differently and let this talk change us.  I feel like I've been learning a lot of things lately, but they have more to do with treating people than with teaching strategies.  One of the biggest things is to love these hermanas I am with as much as I love Skibby and try to treat them that way.  For instance, I love them and care about them, but I know if they were Skibby I would take a more active role in helping them with individual projects or helping them develop skills, I would listen more carefully to their stories, I would let their troubles be my troubles and be able to offer them advice that I'd thought about in my spare time.  It was said that "he who is found possessed of charity at the last day, it shall be well with him." 

I noticed that they talked about the power of scripture study and family home evening.  Please do this.  I love you guys and I want our family to have this strength and protection.  Something that I've noticed helps me when I really want to make a change like this (like study differently or be more diligent or set inspired goals) is write down the plan and then pray to Heavenly Father and make it a covenant with him.  Promise him that you are going to be different and tell him what you are going to do.  It's powerful.

I liked how much they talked about commandments.  Keeping commandments is powerful.  Being obedient isn't being submissive or weak, it is being full of faith.  I have noticed that keeping the commandments is the difference between the Nephites and the Lamanites.  

Ok, I love you guys!  I'll hopefully hear from you sometime!