Monday, October 28, 2013

You know you're a missionary when...

You know you're a missionary when you are jamming out to instrumental versions of songs. The other day the Assistants gave us a CD that had the Piano Guys on it and it had instrumental versions of Titanium and Over the Rainbow. Sister King and I just about died for the loss of real music but we understand why that rule is in place. Just now while writing this letter Hips Don't Lie by Shakira came on the radio and I about died. Not only for the song but as memories of Noa dancing to this song and her love of Shakira! :) The reason why we are so musically starved is because our area is huge. About half of our time is spent in the car, because from one part of our area to another it can take up to 45 minutes to get from place to place. 

This week we had a lesson with Julie and it was great! When she left church last week we gave her a Book of Mormon and the Restoration pamphlet to read. Sister King and I had prepared to talk to her about the Restoration but when we met with her she told us she had read the entire pamphlet and had a ton of questions! We were so surprised and excited by how interested she was. So we just talked about the Restoration briefly and focused on Christ's church being restored on the earth again through Joseph Smith, the priesthood authority (power to act in God's name), and that we have a wonderful prophet on the earth today Thomas S. Monson. She loved that we have a prophet and that our church is Christ's church when he was on the earth, restored again.

We also talked about being baptized at the age of accountability (age 8) and she loved that because she was baptized as a baby and didn't have a choice. She loves that we are given the choice to be baptized and that as kids our parents encourage us and ask us if that is the choice we want to make. She feels it is important to know that you believe in your faith before you are just baptized. She is so interested, has a great relationship with our Heavenly Father, and has SO many questions. She was planning on coming to church on Sunday but about 30 minutes before church started she texted us and told us that she had a bunch of errands to run. :( We were sad but we hope that we can meet with her again this week and that she will come to church. It is so hard not to be overbearing and excited to just force feed the gospel to people; because I know how important it is and how it is going to life! 

Rebecca is a work in progress. On Monday a member of the ward took her to a women's shelter in downtown Houston. We gave her our number and hoped that she would call us so that we could be in contact with her. On Tuesday we got the most interesting phone call. "Hello Ma'am, this is the Houston Police Department, I have a young lady here that would like to speak to you." Our hearts dropped... Oh no! What happened? It was Rebecca and she was telling us how she didn't like the shelter because she had to sleep on the floor and wasn't going to go back there. We didn't know where else she would go so we then asked her again if she had ANY family that she could stay with. She provided us with a family friend in Houston that she hadn't thought of. We Googled the name and it was a miracle that the first number we called was the family and they picked up. They went to go pick her up but unfortunately she is not in our area. However, she is only able to stay there till tomorrow and then she has to find another place to stay and we don't want her to go back to a shelter. So please continue to keep her in your prayers, and that she will have the motivation to be independent and driven to improve upon her life. 

Sister King and I are continuing to try to be creative in finding new investigators. At zone conference this week we continued to brainstorm on ideas for finding. We call them "magnets". Ways that we can attract people to us. Our new ideas include creating a QR code that is connected to a Mormon Message and also working on LDSSA at the LoneStar campus, which is going to be a little more difficult than we anticipated. 

On Saturday we had zero appointments and so we prayed so much that day to be able to know where to go and find people who were prepared to hear the gospel. We decided to go to the park, to Target, and then to The Woodlands mall. We met a couple people here and there and actual got 3 potential investigators from each of the places. We were blessed and it was a great lesson on faith!

Happy Halloween! I love the holiday season as people are reminded of the many ways that God has blessed them. I continually pray for the blessing he has given me. I am so blessed to have this Gospel in my life and the happiness it gives me. I know that if you are searching for the truth that you will find it in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints. I know this church is true with all of my heart and I'm so blessed to have the privilege to be a servant in the hands of the Lord and be a missionary. 

"Try a little harder to be a little better."


Sister Loo

Writing out testimony in a Book of Mormon
to Pablo. Rebecca's boyfriend's brother.

Oh Texans! Do you think they could have a little less pride in the State? :)
I Love these billboards!
Package from home...full of my favorites!
...I was a happy camper.  Thanks Familia! #polyprobs
Interesting fact: There are no sidewalks where we live so going
to the park on Saturday was a bit of an adventure.
Salata at the Woodlands Mall.  We placed a Book of Mormon
on the table while we were eating and definitely got some
interesting glances at our name tags as people passed by. 
Taco food cart #2.  We are making this a tradition every P-day
and finding a new food cart each week.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Texans love their doughnuts...

Wow, what a week!  I am surprised and exhausted that so much can happen in just a short week.

First off, Texans love their doughnuts.  I mean I have seen more doughnut shops here than McDonalds.  They are everywhere.  One thing Texans also love is their big and elaborate churches.  They have churches that sit on large pieces of land that you swear they are bigger than schools.  People here think our temple is our church, because our churches are really in the neighborhoods, so to describe where we go to church is often fund.

Well, I don’t know where to start this week.  We have had so many good and interesting experiences.  One thing I can say about serving a mission is its hard work.  But it is totally awesome.  Seriously, it is the best thing ever…I learn so much each day.  It is such a great experience but you have to be truly dedicated because it is soooo hard.  It’s insanely hard but so worth it.  I think I write every day in my journal about the ups and downs of missionary work.  It can be a roller coaster of emotions from discouragement to excitement so quickly.  Some days, I just have to smile; because the experiences we have that make us really appreciate the work we are doing.

I have noticed that being a missionary, my nametag seems to also mean “therapist”.  I meet people for the first time and they seem to just open up to us and share things you probably shouldn’t share with someone the first time you meet them.  It’s nice that they trust you so quickly.

So this week, Sister King and I have been focused on really having fun with the missionary work and listening to the promptings of The Spirit and then acting on those promptings.

The fun part this week was that when we were coming home one night, it was pouring down rain, I mean like Samoa rain.  So Sister King and I decided we would just have some fun and play in the rain.  We had a great time and it was nice to just help us relax.

We had two great experiences this week.  Frist, Jorge was baptized on Saturday.  He was so excited to be baptized.  It was so nice to see him take this step because you can tell he is truly converted.  He shared with us that after he was baptized and came up out of the water, that when he wiped his face he just felt “light”.  He had such a big smile on his face and a Spirit about him that was so contagious.  It lasted throughout the week.  He was beaming and is so excited to be a member of the church.

On Sunday, while we were at the church looking for the ward mission leader and the Assistants and while there we noticed a girl who walked in with Jeans on.  I was impressed to go and talk to her and we soon found out that she walked in to the church hoping to get a Book of Mormon.  She is 20 and her name is Julie.  She grew up Catholic but had a bunch of Mormon friends.  We shared with her that at 1pm the YSA ward would begin and to come back for that meeting which she did.  It was awesome because the speakers were fantastic and I had the chance to sit next to her and explain everything about our meeting and our congregations.  She even wanted to come back to church next week.  We have an appointment with her on Tuesday to share a discussion.  It has been such a blessing, and simple miracle, because Sister King and I have been praying for a new investigator that we could start teaching from the beginning.  Finding her, getting to know her, and sharing the gospel with her has been such a huge blessing.

We also had a great experience this week as we were driving.  We noticed some kids selling punch and stuff on the side of the road.  We stopped and bought something from them.  As we were leaving, Sister King and I felt impressed that we should have shared a message with them.  We thought it was a bit awkward to go back, but when we got back to our apartment, we grabbed a Jesus the Chris DVD and some pass along cards of Christ and went back to where they were.  When we got back, we shared these with the kids and the father & mother came up to talk to us.  They said that our timing couldn’t have been better.  Their grandpa had died and it has been a very hard time for the family.  The pictures of Christ and DVD we shared about Christ was very thoughtful.  Both Sister King and I realized the importance of following the promptings of the Spirit.

I’m doing soooo great and can’t imagine doing anything else.

Love, Sister Loo
Playing in the rain.  Its raining miracles in Houston, TX

After our "Baptist" encounter, we had to treat ourselves to gelato

Jorge's baptism.  He was so excited and the Spirit was so strong.

In memory of Oregon...I had to visit one of the many taco food carts.
It was sooooo good!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Oi Ya'll! (A mix of Portuguese and Texan for you!)

I am out of the MTC!!!! That's all that is really needed to say. But I am loving Houston and the diversity of people here. There are plenty of trees so I feel somewhat at home. It's just flat. The mission president was joking that the overpasses on the freeway was about the highest that you will get in Houston and it is so true. There are no hills here just completely flat. When we were about to land the pilot got on the intercom and said that it was 81 degrees currently and I got even more excited to be here. It has been really humid and around 90 degrees everyday here which is wonderful! I feel like I'm in Hawaii most of the time and it will be good preparation for Brazil I hope! :)

I am/was so anxious to get to Houston I was so excited to get out of the MTC. I had about a 2 hour nap before I needed to report to the travel office at 3:30. There was a handful of missionaries who were shuttled by bus to the Salt Lake International Airport. It was the weirdest mix of emotions being tired, anxious, excited, nervous, and emotional. It was a good mix of emotions though and an exciting time. One of the Elders in our district even missed the flight to Phoenix that would eventually connect us to Houston. It is funny how the Lord works though because he met 2 people on each of his flights that he had great talks about the gospel and even got one of their email addresses to get in contact with. 

I, however did not have much luck in being able to talk to people at the airports. I sat next to missionaries on my flight to Phoenix and on the flight to Houston I sat next to another missionary and a lady who wasn't very friendly and slept most of the flight. So I was blessed in being able to take 2 naps on Wednesday and it was definitely needed. We landed in Houston and were immediately greeted by President and Sister Pingree. They were so energetic and so nice. I love them already. There was about 35 missionaries that were coming in that day just to the Texas Houston Mission, 7 being Brazil Visa waiters and a mix of Spanish and English speaking Elders and Sisters. 

We were shuttled to a chapel where we had orientation and the best part of the whole day... A home cooked meal of baked potatoes, brisket, coleslaw, and beans! It was delicious and I was trying not to just shove all the food in my mouth. But I did have 2 plates. I'm so excited to have home cooked meals, the MTC was killing me. 

I stayed at a members house with Sister Hansen the first night and we would have transfers the following day. Sister Hansen and I were secretly hoping that the President would still assign us to the same area or that we would be able to stay companions. We hoped, but deep down we knew we were going to be split up. I was sad to leave her but we were both ready to get to work and put what we learned in the MTC to use. To actually talk to REAL people! 

I met my new companion Sister King and she is the cutest thing. I am lucking out with older sister missionaries and I love it. She is from Salt Lake City and graduated from the U in Speech and Hearing Science. She is 23 and is so outgoing and friendly. After we met, while we were sitting next to each other for a little bit she turns to me and says we are the "Looking Sisters". Get it? It was pretty funny but also creative. I definitely have the best trainer and I am learning so much from her. We were assigned to the Sam Houston 1st YSA ward. Yes the young single adult ward. You can laugh its ok. We cover 3 stakes and so we are assigned a car because we cover so much area and have to drive 30 minutes just to get to church.

It has been quite interesting serving in this area because it covers Houston, Spring, Klein, and Magnolia Texas. It is a new area for sisters and so Sister King and I are what they call "white washing" the area. We have a new area and have to start from scratch in finding investigators and figuring out what our responsibilities will be in the ward. We do share the ward with the Assistants to the President so it has been nice working alongside them as well. We take over their investigators whenever there is zone conferences or transfers. The president is wanting our companionships to be the example for the mission on how a Sister companionship and Elder Companionship can work together. 

It has been a little difficult to find investigators this last week because we don't do as much tracting because our main concern is finding young single adults. If we did find a family to teach we would pass them off to the missionaries in the family ward boundries they are in. The YSA ward we are in is so awesome at missionary work though. They have had 12 baptisms in the last year and are wanting to improve upon that number. So Sister King and I are eager to work with the members and brainstorm activity ideas that would be fun for members to invite their friends to. We have realized that a lot of the work that we are going to be doing in this ward will be with member reactivation and transitioning members from the family ward to the young single adult wards. We are planning on doing a lot of member visits this week, visiting recent converts, and working with the YSA reps in the home wards to get in contact with those YSA's that are inactive. I realize that missionary work is not all about finding new investigators but is also about strengthing members and getting those members that are inactive to church. A lot of the members currently in the ward have recently been reactivated within the last 6 months and their testimonies are so strong. It's so awesome!

We did however get to teach 2 lessons on Friday. We taught a girl named Rebecca Morse who the Hermanas were teaching and now she will be transferred over to us. She is a really sweet girl and is eager to get baptized the only thing is that she is still living with her boyfriend. We are trying to find her a new living situation but she doesn't have the money to pay rent. So we have to help her find a job first and we are trying not to do it for her. We have to let her do it herself but continue to encourage her. She has a really rough past with family and so she doesn't really have any options in staying with them. It made me so grateful for the wonderful family I have been raised in and the examples and support they continue to show me.

We also taught for the AP's their investigator Jorge Reca. He is also such a great young man and has a baptismal date set for Saturday which he is really excited for. We taught him about Repentance and why the Savior was baptized. The spirit was so strong during the lesson. At the end he gave such a powerful prayer that was also a mini testimony at the same time. We told him that we were proud of him and that Heavenly Father was so proud of him as well. When we said that he laughed and we asked him why. He said it was because he felt a "whoosh" right after we said that. It was so cool that he felt the spirit from that. We just recently found out that his car was stolen and so he was a little down at church. It's crazy the opposition these investigators face right when they are about to make such an important step in the right direction. We are praying for him to not get down in this moment and to keep with his commitment on Saturday. It will be such a great day!

We are eager to continue working and brainstorming activities with for this ward. It is definitely going to take a lot of effort from both the members of the ward and us as missionaries. We are going to start to work on trying to build an LDSSA on the Lonestar Community College campuses here so that we will be able to set up a table and tract on campus. I hope that this will work out because it will be the best way to find new Young Single Adults in the area. 

This mission is great and is continuing to teach me patience, patience, patience! 

Love ya'll

Sister Loo

Leaving the MTC at 3am
I made it to Houston, TX
Welcome...Texas Houston (new) Missionaries 

The “LooKing” Sisters are down to clown.

Our flat tire…
great experience on my third day in Houston.