Monday, January 26, 2015

Is it really that close? :) 1 More month to go!

Spanish Group
So what is going on with our group is that it will not be a branch but just a group that is under the English ward. A bishopric member will always preside at our meetings. There will be different talks and the sacrament will be administered in sacrament. It is the beginnings to hopefully make this group be a branch in the future and get the support to have primary, young women's, young men's, relief society, and priesthood in spanish. Right now we are aiming for sacrament and sunday school.

And so this week we were really excited to start the Spanish group but that came to a halt as we found out that it wasn't going to be started this week, they were just going to sustain someone to be our group leader yesterday. Well, during the sacrament meeting they didn't sustain a group leader just sustained starting a spanish group. So we are REALLY confused right now... we have no idea when this is going to happen. So please keep our group in your prayers! We really need this group to start.

The First Commandment
I have been blessed to be continually working hard and focused as about this time it is easy for missionaries to be ready to go home or "trunky" as we call it. But I have been thinking a lot about the experiences that I've had on my mission and the blessing it is to serve. 

We were teaching Natasha on Wednesday the 10 commandments and Amber came with us for her first member lesson! It was a lot of fun and we taught her all the hand signals to easily remember the commandments in order.

But the first commandment really struck me this time as we were teaching. Exodus 20:3 says, "Thou shalt have no other Gods before me."

That is our purpose here - TO LOVE GOD. All commandments under that are there to help us fulfill the first. If we just did the first, the rest of the commandments would be naturally obeyed. We talked with Natasha about this and she was like, "they are kinda like gateway drugs... gateway commandments." And as I thought about this, I thought that it was so true! Heavenly Father gave us other commandments than just one so that he can bless us and help us to continue to love him and put him first in our lives. 

I love Moroni 10:32 as well that as we "love God with all our might, mind, and strength" we can become perfected in him. 

And then I thought about my mission again and I found the PERFECT scripture to describe my mission in its entirety and all that I've learned. Its Matthew 22:37

"Jesus said unto him, thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might."

I love this gospel! Love y'all!

Hermana Loo
Hanging out at the Harris' today!
Took a jog around their lake and then a nap on the trampoline! :)

The elders have been teaching Krystin's mom for a LONG time
and she finally decided to get baptized!
It was one of the most powerful baptisms I've been too.
She bore such a sweet testimony at the end of the unity
and love she has felt from the ward and church.
Our new favorite El Salvadorian restaurant- panaderia y papusaria
Hermana DeLaO and I just crave going there!
We ate there two days in a row this last week it was sooooo good!
We may just become regulars in this little shop!
But we have been able to talk to so many people just in the two days that we have been there! :)
Walking around tracting and this cat had a bag stuck on its head... 
Talon's got baptized!
It was an awesome baptismal service as a lot of the young men were involved. 
Cutting Ken's hair with a pair of school scissors and my eyebrow scissors...
He only trusts me to do his hair and likes my haircuts!
Maybe I should become a hairdresser? ;)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Week of Firsts...

1. It's the first week of my last transfer! NOOOO!

2. We were knocking doors and this Spanish man thought I looked like I was from Russia... I was shocked. I guess Nica is right, I am so white. I might need that tannin lotion after all! 

3. I taught my first mini Restoration lesson in Spanish on my own! I've had opportunities to contact and talk to people about the Book of Mormon on my own when we have been on exchanges with the English sisters, but this week I taught when on exchanges again part of the Restoration!

4. Natasha is our YSA investigator and she came back from Winter break with such a strong testimony. She is reading the Book of Mormon each day and doing scripture studies through Skype with one of her best friends. She loves, of course, the story of Ammon! She came to church for the first time this week and loved it!

5. I got sick this week... the first time on my mission. But I am grateful that it wasn't even anything bad. Having good health on the mission has truly been a blessing. 

6. We were out in the back country tracting and I have to admit there are some scary dogs. Everyone seems to love their pit bulls here... We usually are pretty careful. Well this one house had a BEWARE OF DOG sign on it (we usually ignore these as well as No Soliciting signs), we looked at the dog and it didn't seem that mean. It was barking at as and we slowly approached the driveway up to the door and it wasn't moving to attack. So we thought we were fine, knocked on the door, and started talking to a lady when all of a sudden this little dog out of the middle of nowhere comes and starts barking loudly at Hermana DeLaO and I. As we walked off, he bit both of us from behind on our ankles. It was a good thing we had our boots on!

7. I had Menudo for the first time at Gabby's house (see picture below)! I thought it was good except just like the lengua I had eaten earlier, I couldn't get out of my mind what it was. I think Menudo is like cow's stomach or something?

Being Bold and promising blessings
This week we met with a Less Active, H. Policarpo, and we talked to him about submitting to Heavenly Father's Will. We actually read the first Presidency Message with him where President Monson talks about his decision to withdrawl from the navy and take on the responsibilities of Bishop. It was the PERFECT message for all of our members to hear. I'm telling you, he is an inspired man.

But, we talked to him about the importance of church attendance... and he just wasn't getting it. I didn't really know how to say it, but I just opened my mouth and very boldly told him as best as I could, "Hermano we have received direction from our mission president to ask the members to make attending church a priority above anything else, even work and family. The Lord needs you. Even if you have to get a different job, we know that Heavenly Father will bless you more than you know." And then I passed it off to Hermana DeLaO to say the rest...

I didn't even feel bad about asking him to do so. I was so confident Heavenly Father would indeed bless him more than he thought possible, more than I knew was possible too!

As I was thinking about this during the week, I thought Why do I not even feel bad about this? I mean technically we are asking them to quit their jobs and take a HUGE step of faith! Some of them need this assistance to send money back to family in Mexico or they wont be able to pay their bills. But I have never been so certain of promised blessings these people would have than any other commitment I've ever given. I know Heavenly Father has the power to bless them SO much and that everything would turn out ok for them and their families.

... and he showed up at church this last Sunday. Hopefully this is the start of something!

I received such an awesome text from the Sam Houston 2nd Sisters that an investigator that I had found and taught for a short amount of time got baptized this last weekend! I was so surprised and shocked!

His name is Will and he is 19 and looks a little like Chris Brown. While on exchanges with Sister Fullmer, we were walking around and contacting and Will was a bit ahead of us. But he was the only one around, so I started walking quickly to catch up with him and then said, "Excuse me, have you seen missionaries like us before?" He didn't seem very interested and so we gave him a Restoration pamphlet. 

Well Will ended up coming to church that week and we taught him the Restoration. As we were going the next week to follow-up with him we knocked on his apartment and his mom answered. She is deaf and so we had a conversation through writing on a notepad and she told us that Will was in Jail!

Apparently he had contacted a friend in the ward who he had gone to play church ball with a couple of times and said he wanted to come back to church! The sisters told me that he has grown so much and even bore his testimony this month during fast and testimony meeting! The gospel truly does change lives!

Then this weekend Amber, Lori's daughter, got baptized! She was beaming from ear to ear and so happy! At the end of her baptism she bore the sweetest testimony about how the gospel has blessed her life. The spirit was so strong! :)

This week last minute the bishopric asked me to give a talk. And they didn't give me a topic at all. It was actually a blessing as I was searching for what I should talk on, I was able to reflect on my mission and the many experiences I've had, the things that I have learned, and the miracles I have been able to witness. 

As I was pondering, there were three main things that I have felt I have learned on my mission; Faith, Obedience, and Submitting to Heavenly Father's Will. As I kept studying and planning my talk I was filled with the spirit of gratitude for the experience of serving a mission- I would not trade it for anything! It truly has been the most inspiring, happiest time of my life. I just want to include some quotes and comments on each of these three topics. 

Faith & Obedience - 

I love what it says in the bible dictionary. 

" [Faith] is more than belief, since true faith always moves its possessor to some kind of physical and mental action; it carries an assurance of the fulfillment of the things hoped for."

So many times on my mission I have prayed for guidance and direction and I seem to get the same response over and over again... Have more faith! At times it has been difficult. More Faith?! Really! How can I have more Faith? But I have realized that Faith is something that we constantly need to work on and improve on. When we are increasing our Faith we are learning and acting, our testimony is growing. Faith is the initiator for Everything! No wonder it is the first principle of the gospel!

I believe Faith and Obedience works hand in hand together and I've learned that what it says in Isaiah 1:19 is SO true.

"If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land"

Submitting to Heavenly Father's Will-
I was able to share my testimony of my decision to stay in Texas. That sometimes what we want is not exactly what Heavenly Father wants for us. As I was doing so, I was impressed by how much Heavenly Father knows us. He knows what is best for us. And I definitely agree with him, being in Texas was the right mission for me. I needed to take that act of faith to trust him and he has blessed me tremendously! He has blessed me with the desires of my heart to learn more than I thought was possible!

Love Y'all! 

Hermana Loo
My favorite Purple trailer 
Text Messages from SH2 

Eating at Gabby's,.. Yumm! 
with Amber after her baptism 
A classic Spanish Door
Menudo with Gabby!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Start of the LAST TRANSFER. Its gonna be good!

Moving Forward
I am so excited for the Spanish group to start in the next couple of weeks. Yesterday we had President Vasquez (Reminds me of a Spanish version of Grandpa Hoching- made me miss him!) from the mission presidency come and visit our ward and he is excited for the potential here! We will have him and President Mortensen at our first Sacrament Meeting in Spanish! #cantwait

AND... WE HAD 13 SPANISH MEMBERS AT CHURCH! with 4 being investigators. It was a miracle, I just kept smiling bigger and bigger as they each walked through the door! 

Gratitude & HOPE
We went and visited a potential investigator Natalio at his trailer home. His family is torn apart because his son got deported back to Mexico and works two jobs to be able to afford living here and sending money to Mexico for his family. Him and his 2 boys and grandson live off of top ramen and their meager home has hardly any furniture. It was probably the saddest experience of my mission yet. I was reminded of how blessed I am with the life I have and my family.

He felt and expressed that he had no hope in his life. At the beginning he was joking around with us, but when he started talking about his family he got so sad. He has gone to church after church looking for the light of the gospel and hasnt found it. I'm excited to start teaching him and hopefully he will be able to come to church so that he can see the light of the gospel and the hope that is brought through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. 

Book of Mormon is Real.
We met this girl Jessica putting up our Daily Dose English Class flyers. She speaks English and works at a Mexican Quincinera Store. We went into the store to teach her the first Restoration lesson. It was awesome! She is searching for the truth of the gospel! We invited her to read the Book of Mormon, pray about it, and then to be baptized when she knew that it was true. And she accepted! 

It just amazes me those who we are teaching and who have recently been baptized. Their decision will change generations and past generations. Our choices in life are so important and so critical. #anothermissionarylesson

Sister King sent me this awesome link to a Youtube video. It describes the Book of Mormon so simply and beautifully. 

Love Y'all!


Heart Attacking Hermana Pineda's Door
random pic...
Exchanges with Sister Sabin

Monday, January 5, 2015

Little Miracles make a BIG difference!

Raining Miracles
This week we had so many mini miracles and found 9 new investigators! There's always a drought before the rain and we were so blessed this week! As I look back, what a great way to start the new year!

This week we have been really focusing our door approaches on Families and how the Book of Mormon can help bless their families. Each Spanish family has a story. They are hard-working, loving people who have made so many sacrifices to be here in this country and to provide a life for their future generations. 

As we have talked to each of them about how God has helped them through their trials, it has been a privilege to testify of the divinity of our Savior and the prophets who testify of Him in the Book of Mormon. I think that I have been repeating myself each week, but I have come to know a bit of the power that lies in just a tiny blue book. And I cannot wait to continue learning through the spirit as I read it and share it. 

Because of the power of the Book of Mormon, our mission president has made a change in the baptismal requirements for our mission. Now before getting baptized, the investigator needs to read the first 15 chapters of the Book of Mormon. Within the first 15 chapters, they learn of missionary work from the Tree of Life, the Plan of Salvation, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

We just received news from our stake president that he is hoping to start our Spanish Group here in Huntsville by January 25th. I know that this will help the work move at a bigger pace, and that many testimonies will be strengthened as a result of it. 

He is always there and He will always answer
This week we had Missionary Leadership Council with all the zone leaders and sister training leaders and WOW was it an answer to prayers! I felt like the whole meeting was meant for me and I was so grateful to my Heavenly Father for such a straightforward and prompt response. He does answer prayers and I know that he loves each and every one of us! 

As I was studying I came across this quote that I LOVE:

"Don't worry about your clumsily expressed feelings. Just talk to your Heavenly Father. He hears every prayer and answers it in his way." - Richard G Scott

Finding Success
Our mission is putting a focus on Finding from the hours of 6-8 each night. And even if we don't find anyone that day, we have seen so many miracles in so many other aspects of our missionary work. I know that this is inspired of the Lord. At first I was making excuses, "It's too dangerous." "I don't want to be tracting in a sketch trailer park." "It's dark!" "Its cold" yada yada yada... But I realized at our MLC meeting that it was inspired, we were going to be ok, and we would be blessed in finding many people that are ready. So we have been doing so, and what do you know, it's worked!

We were knocking a trailer park that has been knocked probably a good two times by each companionship that has been in the area... but we decided that we wanted to contact and all of our appointments for the day had fallen through. There was something we were supposed to do... we just didn't know what. So after contacting a man who insisted on giving us 4 slices of a ham that he just pulled out of the oven, I felt like we should knock on this one trailer.

A lady answered the door and she looked like she was half black, so I gave a door approach in English. She halfway closed the door and left... we waited there for a couple of minutes and didn't know if we should leave. We were about to when her son answered the door. I gave him a pass along card and said, "I don't know if your mom is interested but can you give her this card? And if she isn't, Hey you have a picture of Jesus Christ!" He left but didn't close the door all the way either.

So we waited another couple of minutes... when his dad comes from the end of the trailer. I start giving him an approach in English, and then I realize he only speaks Spanish. We start talking to him and he tells us that he is a member of our church! We couldn't believe it! He had been baptized with his family in Nicaragua but then fell inactive afterwards when his father passed away. He knew exactly where the church was and was telling us that he would drive past on Sundays and would tell his family that they were going to go inside the church one day but then was too scared because he didn't know anyone. 

Well we dropped by yesterday and starting talking to the first lady who answered the door who turns out to be his wife! She is interested in coming to church this next week and we are planning on teaching her! She is soooo funny! She is like a Hondurana version of Aunty Nica! She loves to dance and was just cracking us up with so many stories! We are so excited for the family and what a miracle to tract into a family who speaks Spanish! 

I love y'all! And in the words of my mission president from our MLC meeting ... "Think bigger, Be bigger... and love like Jesus Christ."

Hermana Loo

Its freezing in Houston
Hermana DeLaO y yo!