Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Emily sent us the following email and pictures on Monday, August 11, 2014:

Hey family!!!  I am so good!!!  La mas linda (Hna. Avila) and I are doing SO good!  We are happy and exhausted and conscientiously working to put into application all the things that we are being asked!  The days run by and we just marvel how fast monday comes every week.  Transfers are this coming tuesday.  The transfer calls came on Saturday and we could not have been more happy then to have been safe from any changes!  There have been a lot of upsets this transfer time so I'm just so grateful that we are outside of the madness!  

Yep, all the missionaries that are finishing will finish Tuesday and then fly home on Wednesday.  Speaking of!  Are you guys going to drive here to pick me up?  OR do you know what you want to do?  I mean also, I could just fly home too!  Nothing is really too set at this point!  For your vacation are you guys going to drive here?

When la mas linda and I got transferred into this area, there weren't any investigators that we could even salvage because the missionaries in the area before us had had a sick missionary so they didn't really get outside of the house and work.  

We started fresh with a lot of energy and faith.  I feel very committed to this ward and I felt it was a privilege to be entrusted with this area I love so much.  We started by contacting and talking to literally every person.  We kept good track of all our potentials (people that are interested and give us contact information) in the area book.  We would follow up to make sure that we tried to contact them and give them a chance to respond to us.  

I don't know if I already told you about this, but we also started visiting a bunch of the menos activos.  Menos Activo work is hard for me, but it is important to care for them too and the numbers in the church at sunday were sadly low.  Mostly menus work makes me frustrated and feel like I'm not fulfilling my missionary purpose.  It was hard because as much as I cringe pouring time into menus actives, I had to have Hna. Avila think that I liked helping them.  I became their advocate because countless places in Preach My Gospel tells you that there are better ways to find then just knocking doors.  

Sometimes with menoses if it takes so much pushing to get them to come to church, they will only come to church if they are pushed that much and when the pushing stops, they stop too. But then, there are others that are ready to come back.  

We got Erica Martinez to come to church and she has been present the last month after not coming to church in years and years!  She is adorable!  I'll send you a picture of her.  She was asked by a member of the bishopric to lead the music in the sacrament meeting.   I practiced with her right before the relief society meeting because she was nervous and wanted to do really well.  She is young..28 and she has a cute little Carlito who is probably 5!  She is on the verge of being divorced with her non-member husband.  I know that Erica had been practicing leading all week.  Yesterday at church, she lead and you could hear little Carlito singing because he KNEW the songs!  He had listened to his mom practice them all week.  And then....her husband showed up at the church to support her because he had also watched her practice for this all week.  She couldn't speak for a moment and was glowing with happiness.  

Another menus family is the Madrid family.  They are the cutest family and there is so much love there!  They are very sporty kids!  They live in a very private gated community.  They have to check my id every time and make a phone call before they can let me in.  The mom's name is Delmi and she works for someone who used to be in movies when she was younger.  They live in the smaller house on the property with the Jefa's house.  You guys will have to see this neighborhood because the architecture is INCREDIBLE!  Their houses are ginormous!  The Jefa's house is going to be demolished and rebuild for $18 mil.  Have you heard of Kim Cardashian?  (SP?)  She lives here too..just to give you an idea.  It's like the most elite and rich community I've (obviously) ever seen or that I knew existed.  When you wonder where movie stars live...yea, it's here!  We have started doing family home evenings with them, and this next one (friday) is planned to have them for sure be at church.  We will play soccer with them for the game.  3 on 3 should be pretty fun and I've gotten better at soccer too ;)  I'll keep you updated on them.  And I'm attaching a picture of them!  They might come visit utah in December!

The Roque family!  This family is just half menos!    

(maybe the description of them will come next week)

Hermana Judith Diaz Lizano

(her description too)

These are menos, but they are like investigators.  Through them, we've found people.  

We have a lesson planned on marriage for Erica and her husband for tonight at 7:00.  We are teaching the 2 grandchildren of Hna. Roque.  I love Yoni and David!!  We are teaching Hna. Lizano's husband and he has a baptismal date!

Here are our investigators (and remember we are still in the process of rebuilding this area)  ....but actually, we are doing better than ...most others.

  • Yoni (grandson of Hna. Roque)
This kid is really cute!   He has 13 years and is from El Salvador.  He is so expressive in his language and he only speaks spanish.  [i have to be more brief so that i communicate more of the most important things to you.  I'm going to work on this through all my next letters]  Here is a story that shows you the type of person Yoni is: he was being held in the immigration center and there was this boy younger than he was that spoke a more obscure dialect of another language.  Yoni (*I spelled his name johnny last week) He took that little boy under his wing and told him "anda conmigo" (which is like come stay with me, with the connotation that he'd care for him).  Yoni was explaining the story to us and you could see the compassion that he had for this little boy.  He explained how he was young and scared and didn't understand anything people were saying to him.  Yoni helped him do what he was supposed to so he wouldn't get punished when the people would get mad that he wasn't understanding quickly enough.  There was a time when a man pointed a taizer right at the little boy and Yoni saw the fear in his little face and Yoni stepped in front of him and he took the electric shock for him because in his words, "his eyes were so big and he was so scared he was shaking so I stood in front of him".  

I tell the story to make Yoni sound like a hero, but he didn't tell it that way.  He just recounted an experience he had, but I saw his heroism and his compassion and his instinctual understanding for how we should care for our fellow men.  

He shared this during our family home evening on Service.  After this our member present loaded up the 2 boys and 2 of the Roque girls and we went to the bishop's house to doorbell ditch a little pie.  My heart was bursting with joy the whole time.  The bishop texted the older Roque girl and thanked her about 5 times for the pie.  *I'll send a picture of this too.
  • David (hermano de Yoni)
David is a good boy.  He is pretty shy, but you can tell that he and his brother are both really smart.  David is 16.  I love watching him understand more.  This week they all have someone that they were secretly doing service for.  We decided to serve them so we went to their house one of the mornings with banana bread and ice-cream to share with them.  I don't know exactly what they think of us, but I do know they have to know that we care about them.  David especially loved the banana bread.  We had a lesson first, and....they like us and they are trusting us.  :)
  • Angel (esposo de Hna. Lizano)
He...(his description willl have to come next week too)  But he was a baptismal date for the 14 of september.
  • Romanita
description to come: baptismal date 7 september, came to church yesterday, cried during the talk about prayer
  • Jorge (esposo de romanita)
Well, they're not actually married, but we are teaching them chastity tonight and we will commit them to getting married.  They both have a baptismal date for the 7th
  • Rebecca **<3  (knocking miracle)
She might be one of my favorite people!
  • Marcos (found on a blitz)
He builds pianos and is very spiritual.  He is married to a white girl that doesn't speak spanish. 
  • Elizabeth (Marco's wife)
She is really nice and understood the magnitude of the 1st vision.
  • Antonio (result of "talking with everyone")
I think I told you his story..
  • about 7 others that don't have enough interest and don't keep commitments.
Basically, i would say that we have about 5 or 6 that are progressing.  To be progressing, they must be keeping commitments.  Usually I make this directly to mean coming to church, but if they are reading, that is good too.  Church really is the most important thing. For investigators to progress, you have to meet with them 2 or more times a week.  We meet with Yoni and David about 3 times.  We made a calendar for Romanita and Jorge, and we set pats mon, wed, and fri.  We have their whole teaching planned out up until their baptism.  Angel we only have thursdays, but that needs to change for him to keep his date.  Rebecca we used to get about 2, but then an apt was cancelled and we need to find her tomorrow.  

The sad truth is that a lot of people are passive.  Rebecca has a lot of questions.  When we are teaching people that are invested (have a date) it changes the game and they start having more questions.  That is why I like it so much after they have a date because the investment changes.  

Thank you SOO much for the FHE ideas!  I'm definitely going to use what I can because the missionaries putting on Family Home Evenings is very popular here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Emily sent the following email and pictures on Monday, August 4, 2014:

Hi!  I love you and I miss you!  

Tonight we are going to take the Roque familia with us to deliver some treats to some other members of the ward so they get to feel the good feeling that comes with service.  We have been working with a lot of menus actives and trying to get them to church.  It is really interesting to think about all these members of Christ's true church that are so weak and wonder what hope they have.  A lot of them, even though they were baptized have a very limited knowledge of the beliefs that we have as members of the church.  It hurts me that they stumbled upon the best thing for them, but that even if they can say they understand it, they don't know it internally because they don't come to church because they have errands to run or they are tired.  I don't know if this is just a trend in hispanic wards, but if you don't say hi to them at church, they can be really offended.  It's almost humorous, but mostly just sad.  You have to go to church because you are honoring your covenant with God.  We really do make covenants to give all that we have: our time, energy, and talents for the building up of the church of Jesus Christ.  ....ahh I'm getting boron again!  I'm so sorry!

I did make banana bread with Hna. Avila!  It wasn't until we put the bread in the oven that we realized it wasn't going to finish baking until after 10:30 so we decided to be obedient and go to bed and then set an alarm to get it out.  

We had a very revelatory mission conference.  The president was there and we presented on a variety of things.  It's cool because it allows you to receive revelation on a wide variety of questions that you may come with, ranging from how to  teach laws and ordinances after baptism, to the type of missionary we want to be, to how our efforts are supported by the plan of salvation.  

I participated in the musical number again!  First of all, my himno playing in sacrament is improving.  I can very confidently say that I know Heavenly Father is helping the music reading come to me more easily because I am stretching myself and doing things that make me nervous so I can help his ward.  I maybe have 30 min to practice the 3 hymns that I will be playing that day.  Sometimes all the ward gets in the right hand, and I feel bad because they deserve more that I can't give them, but I still feel happy that I can try to serve them.  

Back to the musical number.  I felt just like you!  I was the accompanist and I played my "if you could hie" song while Hna Avila, Cable, and Allen sang the lyrics to "Oh How Lovely Was the Morning."  It turned out really really cool!  We had to work for a while until we got the timing just right, but they were very proud to be able to perform it, and it was beautiful.  I can see that it takes additional skills to be able to accompany.  I liked it because I noticed me naturally doing things that I'd seen you do and I just wanted to call out to the whole ward that I am your daughter.  I noticed myself bringing them in with the nod of my head, I was wearing my glasses that day..;), and I had to clap out a rhythm part for them in addition to having them practice certain parts over and over :)

We learned about being faithful to our temple covenants.  This time is the best time we will have in our lives to live certain commands so fully.  Commandments like obedience, and sacrifice and consecration.  They read a quote that said that every missionary's ability to call down the powers of heaven is directly related to his or her level of personal consecration.  Sometimes I feel like I stress myself out trying to figure out how I can be more consecrated.  It seemed to me like consecration is like sacrifice, but then we give our will over to Jesus Christ.  A more understandable standard to shoot for would be trying to be a good and faithful servant, meaning worthy and obedient (and I'm adding diligent).  

It is true that this church is all about progress and the journey towards perfection.  It is healthy to get a balanced dose of information that makes you want to improve and promises that God is merciful and loves us.  

We are burning up in the sun here!  I'm going to return home so brown!!  We are finally having better investigators and people that can progress!

Some of my favorite investigators are Johnny and David.  They are the Roque's grandsons.  We don't know where their mom is, but it seems to be like a mystery that is not public knowledge.  They are 13 and 16 and so wonderful!!!  They both speak pure spanish and don't understand english.  Johnny speaks such clear, expressive spanish, it is like art the way the words flow from him.  David (16) the older one is more serious and more quiet.  Johnny is more outgoing and he will answer our questions.  It could be a little awkward because I don't want them to feel like they are being obligated to listen to us even though that is obviously what their family wants.  We are going by when the majority of the family isn't there so we can address their needs and make sure that they have sincere desires to learn and that we aren't just talking at them because that is what other people want.  Johnny really touched both our hearts when he sincerely thanked us for coming and teaching them and told us he liked it when we came.  mmmmmmm...it hurts it's so cute!

Antonio.  We found him collecting bottles from the garbage can and we talked to him.  After asking him how we was, the first thing that jumped from his lips was "bendecido" (blessed).  I was humbled by his response.  He asked us some questions and I could tell that he trusted completely that what we would answer would be the truth.  He didn't seem to doubt that we would be authorities on the matter and were bringing pure truth.  I heard the words of Preach My Gospel and realized that the confidence he was displaying in us was him recognizing us as servants of the Lord.  It says that people who are prepared will recognize you as servants of the Lord.  We walked away from our contact feeling really touched and I knew that through deductive reasoning, we must have found a prepared person :)

Probably my favorite investigator is a wonderfully cute and sweet mom named Rebekah.  She has one baby with another on the way.  She used to go to a christian church in Pacoima, but it's a little far for them to get there right now.  She has a lot of good questions and she also trusts the things we tell her.  She read the foyetto before we came back for our first lesson.  She likes going to church and takes her husband with her when she wants to go.  We talked about church, and usually people are nervous to come so we offer to meet them out front.  She told us she didn't know if she would be able to get there this sunday, but she might just surprise us!  She told us she can tell that we are good people and  ahhh:)  I just love having people that want to learn and will make progress. 

Emily with her companion, Hna. Avila.
They are at La mas linda, the only place within their mission where the ocean is visible.