Monday, December 29, 2014

Bienvenida a 2015!

Amadas Familiares Mias,  (My Beloved Family Members)

I have had such a great Christmas week!  As a missionary though, I'm also very glad it's over :)  It's very difficult to find time to teach and do lots of work during Christmas....we have one more crazy week this week and then finally we can get back in the groove and work our tails off!  A month ago I thought I was going to be super homesick and lazy this season, but I feel the complete opposite! I'm ready to work hard for 12 more months!  

Thank you everyone for the Christmas love!  Letters, pictures, gifts...ahh everything was so great!!  It took me over an hour to open everything!  

One spoiled Hermana!!  Thank you EVERYONE!!
Also mom, on day 10 of 12 days, when we opened up our memory cards,Sister Clark gasped and said, "I am officially in love with your mom!"  Those gifts were so fun for us each day :)  Thank you a billion times over!
Opening the 12th Day of Christmas - a picture book from family & friends....
my favorite gift!!

Christmas Eve and Christmas were really fun.  Christmas Eve was pretty normal besides caroling after dinner.   The Guerrero family fed us a dinner of tamales, white rice, and grilled corn.  They also built a campfire and Hermano Guerrero told us gross stories from his mission to Columbia.  They all had to do with gross things he ate :p  All our zone went caroling that night (20 missionaries) and it was so neat!  We would sing to our recent converts or less actives, but we were so loud their neighbors would come out!  

11th Day of Christmas - matching PJ's!  Thank you Grammy & Bumpa!
Christmas day we had a zone activity all morning.  My companion and I didn't play Gator Zombie Dodge with everyone else because we didn't want to sweat :) Haha!  Basically it's like soccer, dodgeball, and tag mixed together with boomerangs, Frisbees, and helmets made out of cardboard.  Even after an hour of watching it, I still didn't get it.  Then some English members made us ham and waffles for lunch :)  Afterwards we had a secret Santa exchange.  I gave the Elder I had a dead plant with some candy.  It was awkward though when he didn't realize it was dead, and thought I really gave him flowers.  So funny!  Then as you know, we Skyped home which was so great :)  You all looked so good and happy and I'm so grateful I don't have to stress about my family back home!  I loved hearing your voices too!  I do miss you all!  So much!  Just not enough to want to come home yet :)  I still have too much work to do!  I loved the skype call because it felt like nothing had changed!  Dad says, "Go utes", mom tells me I need to iron my clothes, Grammy squealed, it was perfect!  I'm so glad it worked out so well :)  After Skype we went to carol to some of our members, and then had pozole and tamales for dinner.  After dinner we went caroling again all night.  I never thought I could get sick of Christmas Hymns! My favorite was caroling to Xochitl's family with the other missionaries. Her 2 year old yelled "Hermanas!!"  And he doesn't speak much!  Christmas was incredible this year.  I hope it's my last one away from home, but I am so so grateful for the memories of this year.

We are halfway through the transfer now and we still have so much to do.  We have a bad feeling that one of us is leaving next transfer so we're scrambling to really combine the areas so that whoever gets left knows all the investigators, less active, recent converts, addresses, backgrounds, etc.  Ay chihuahua.  We both really want to stay another transfer together.  I loved Sister Ferre, but because she was training, there was always a lot of explaining and the language barrier.  I loved training her, but I can see now what the benefit is to have 2 experienced missionaries working in an area.  I just feel so much better about the quality of work I'm giving and even though we're struggling to contact people as much as we used to, it's been a miracle that the true progressing investigators are showing through.  We aren't having to remind them a billion times to do what we ask, those who are serious --are showing it.  We are basking in miracles! 

The first miracle comes from our part member family, the Perez family.  Nereyda was baptized about 18 months ago, and her husband has 0 interest.  They have a 6 yr old Ashley and now a 4 month old Jimena.  When Nereyda was getting close to her due date was when all of a sudden Octavio started showing interest.  The idea of a forever family really caught his attention.  About a month ago he told his missionaries he would get baptized, but then things happened, we weren't able to visit him, and then we went over and they had that fight in front of us!  Well we asked our branch president to talk to them.  After he did, he approached us and said "I have good news!!"  We thought he was buying us food again :)  Better!  He said "Octavio has a baptism date!!"  We both dropped our jaws!  Sure enough we went over there last night and Octavio wants to be baptized on January 17 :)  They both came to church yesterday and loved it.  Last night's visit was so different from last week.  It actually seemed like they liked each other and Nereyda was super supportive and told him how the Holy Ghost has changed her.  We didn't even ask her to share!  I have fallen in love with this family super fast.  I'm excited to be a part of his baptism :)  

The second set of miracles came from exchanges this week with one of the Sisters.  I asked her at the beginning what her expectations from me were in the exchange and she said, "Miracles."  Hesitantly I told her I would try.  We went to dinner after this conversation with some recently returning inactive members.  I asked them about their families, their callings, etc.  (The other 3 missionaries were fairly new and so I spoke the best Spanish).  No one else really talked to her.  Well after dinner we sat on the couch for the Elder to share a message and the Husband just started telling me his life story!  About he was a drunk, and now he's been sober for 3 months and the gospel has changed his life.  The other missionaries seemed shocked afterwards and Sister -- told me that they had never opened up like that before.  Hmmm.. the magic of talking to strangers has become real for me :)  That's not the only crazy thing we saw on this exchange!  She had been out only 8 weeks, and hadn't had one progressing investigator, or one investigator on date.  Really sad!  That night with her we went to contact one of their potentials and he wasn't home.  As we were in that area I remembered a man I had contacted on the street my first week in the mission.  His name was Armando and I knew he lived close because I had tried to contact him with Sister Grooms a long time ago.  I recognized his trailer right away and so we knocked.  He was so open and wants to learn so bad!  We were going to just set a return appointment, but instead he wanted to sit in the freezing night air and listen.  We had a great introductory lesson and he set the return appointment.  The Sister I was working with was so excited!  New investigator!  

Well, I thought that was the miracle she wanted so I wasn't expecting much more!  The next morning we had a lesson with a former investigator that she had only met once, but had felt prompted to go back and see him.  He was golden!  He had been reading the Book of Mormon in their absence and had a set baptism date within 20 minutes!  Sister xxx could not believe it :)  I laughingly flipped my hair and called myself a miracle worker :)  Really, I let her do most of the teaching....she is an awesome teacher.  All it takes some times is a pair of new eyes and new ideas.  That's why missionaries always say, "The miracle of exchanges!"

On the other hand, I had a terrible exchange with a brand new missionary!  We got a call from the mission office that morning that the mom van needed an oil change.  Apparently it hadn't had one in over 11,000 miles.  Whoops!  So we go to the car shop thinking it's going to be a quick gig.  Well....I thought wrong!  They finished in 40 minutes, but as we drove towards an investigators house, the van started beeping at me like crazy!  The engine light was going crazy, and the oil light was still on!  A  little frustrated we went back to the car shop.  A guy comes and messes with some buttons, gets out, goes back into the store and comes back out.  He then tells me, "I think I got it.  I looked it up on YouTube."  WHAT?!  Having zero faith, I let him try to fix it with his YouTube method.  After about 10 minutes he says, "It worked!"  Fine.  We drive away again...and the van starts beeping like crazy again!  Now really frustrated because we have wasted 2 hours of work, I drive back exasperated.  I said, "It's still beeping!"  He pulls it into the garage this time so we went back to the waiting room.  They let us have a free soda.  Then a guy comes in and tells us he put the wrong oil in, so they have to redo the oil change.  Grrrr....finally after another hour, they let us go and the van stops beeping.  Well, now it's 4 and we have to go to the Mesa lights.  Me and my directions....I ended up in the airport terminals?!?  Finally, I get on the right freeway and there are two crashes, so we were almost 40 minutes late for our shift.  Then!  I get a call from a member who fixed dinner for the missionaries and no one showed up.  So I had to work that out, and send missionaries to their house.  Agh!!!  Luckily the Spirit of the temple finished off the exchange on a good note, and throughout all of this I was able to have some really good conversations with the Sister.  We were able to get 49 contacts at the temple, and I made it home without issues.  Basically I've leaned this week that exchanges can be SUPER good or super bad.  That poor sister....I tried my best with what I was given!  And now it's a hilarious story to tell...I wasn't laughing during it though!

Oh Temple lights....they are overrun with BYU fans!  Dad you should be proud of me.  One night I approached this young couple, and the girl was wearing a BYU shirt.  I walked up to her and said hello and then I said, "I'm sorry, but we'll have to ask you to leave for wearing that shirt."  She looked really concerned for a second and then realized what she was wearing :)  Hahaha we got a good laugh out of that!  We saw her there the next week too and I congratulated her on wearing appropriate clothing :)  I've only seen one family of Utah fans there! So sad!

Octavio was the only investigator at church this week, but Lorenzo is very consistent and brought the grand-kids again!  The best was that he got himself a white shirt, tie, and suit :)  It was so cute!!  He looked so happy, and he fits in perfectly now with the Priesthood brethren :)  

We taught Xochitl and 2 of her boys this week.  For some reason they didn't come to church though :(  And right after we had a lesson about putting God first....we are going to stop by tonight :)  

Sister Clark saw Selene while I was on exchanges.  Apparently Cristian told her he's going to read the Book of Mormon in 2 weeks!  I just finished the book today and it's the fastest I've ever finished it! 46 days :)  If he does it in 2 weeks, I will be super impressed.  We will see :)

This week we have a tri-zone New Years party and we get to watch "It's a Wonderful Life" and play board games!  Those are both rule if only we could stretch music back out!  I also have lots of meetings this week, but no exchanges!!

I hope you have a great New Year :) 
Until Next Year!!

I love you, I Love You, I LOVE YOU!!!

Hermana Short

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas

Feliz Navidad Familia!!

This past week was crazy, and this next week is going to be crazier!  We have had so many fun activities!

Christmas in the mission isn't as sad and depressing as I thought it was going to be :)

Let's start with Friday.  Friday was a really good day :)  First we had a tri-zone luncheon in Mesa with President and Sister Sweeney.  What did I eat?  Ham and rolls :)  After lunch, the Sisters from my zone, and one other zone did a musical number which turned out to be really pretty!  We sang "O Come all Ye Faithful" and I played the piano.  Then one of the cute Senior Missionaries told us she didn't want anyone to go without presents on Christmas so she had made 250 pillowcases!  1 for each missionary and leader.  It was so nice!  Then we all gathered on the steps of the temple for a picture, and finally we went inside the temple!  I love the Mesa temple :)  This was the first time that President and Sister Sweeney have gone with us, and we had a special chapel meeting beforehand and listened to their testimonies.  One of the memories I will always cherish from my mission is sitting in the temple with a room full of missionaries, and then feeling the Spirit so strong as they say a prayer in behalf of the missionaries.  So neat!  In the celestial room, President Sweeney approached me and asked how I was holding up.  I said "good!"  He said it's a lot of work isn't it?" (Referring to combining areas and becoming a leader)  I couldn't even say anything, I just nodded my head....I have never felt so continuously stressed out in my life!  

Mesa Temple lights

Despite the stress, I still seem to have a grand old time here in Phoenix :)  Friday after the temple, Sister Clark
Ernie & Jairo
and I raced the mini-van to the nearest Taco Bell, scarfed down food, then raced back to the temple to work the Christmas lights shift.  We didn't have any crazy neat experiences this time, but Jairo and Ernie came which was exciting!  We gave them a tour of the grounds and they loved it :)  The picture I sent of you is them, Jairo is the dark one.  We told them to pose, and they totally put their arms each other awkwardly like they were in a relationship and me and Sister Clark cracked up laughing.  Jairo is from Venezuela so he didn't get it.  Then they did the awkward pose you see in the picture....peace signs change everything I guess :)  When we took them to watch the Christus statue, Jairo saw a little boy with popcorn and in Spanish said "OK when the lights go off, I run over there and take his popcorn!"  To his dismay the lights never went off, and the boy got to keep his popcorn :)  We had a good lesson with them on Wednesday this week where we talked about praying with specific questions.  They both pray, but they need to ask if the church is true and then act on that's what they are working on now.  They are such good investigators, they just need to act!

Saturday was a day full of service and fun!  First thing that morning (after studies of course) we went to help Hermana Portugal make tamales!  2 missionaries would spread the dough in the corn husk, 2 would put the meat inside and fold the husk, then I was in charge of wrapping them in wax paper to cook :)  It was really fun!  It was hilarious when Hermana Portugal started paying attention to what we were doing and realized the husk folders were doing them too small!  In Spanish she would yell "What is this?!"  "If we were selling these we would make no money!"  "Poor homeless people....these won't even stop their hunger!"  It wasn't my fault so I just cracked up laughing :)  We are going to try to help her hand them out to the homeless on Christmas.  After we eat some for Christmas dinner with her family :)  

After tamale making, we went to our church building to set up for our branch Christmas party.   And boy was that a party!  I got some delicious pozole and corn bread!  I think more investigators came than members which was awesome!  And a good number of less-actives!  Hermano Tejada shared a couple really neat Christmas videos and a message after dinner, and then the fun started.  The Lopez's dressed up as Santa and Mrs. Claus, and everybody loved it!  Imagine Sofia Vergara being Mrs. Claus because that's exactly how it was!  Hermana Lopez is from Columbia and her Spanish is so fast, and she doesn't like anything slow.  The kids would sit on her lap, take a picture, and she was practically shoving them off.  Her husband would try to take longer, but she'd prod them off.  So funny....she never had kids so I guess she's not used to dealing with them :)  After Santa the missionaries had to race home for curfew, but the rest of the branch stayed and had a pinata and dance.  I wish I could have stayed to watch :p  

Spanish Branch Missionaries

Lorenzo & Granddaughters

Familia Guerra (Best Branch Cooks), Hermana Toledo (blind),
Hno y Hna Lopez (Santa and Mrs)

Hermana Curiel

Hermana Curay (Peru)

Hermana Orozco (RS President)

Sunday was our branch Christmas program, and I want to type this entire paragraph in capital letters, because you will not believe the Christmas miracle that happened this week.  Daniel, his two little brothers, AND BOTH HIS PARENTS, came to Sacrament meeting!  His dad!  The one that leaves the room when we come, the one that told Xochitl he'd never listen to us, so don't ask!  He sat right there in the middle pew next to his wife, with his boys.  I seriously think I almost dropped dead from my seat on the piano!  Xochitl looked up at me with a giant grin and slyly pointed her finger at her husband excitedly.  My mission is complete, heck, my life is complete!! I talked to her afterwards and she said he was trying to get her not to go to church, but she put her foot down and said she was going.  Then he started changing his clothes and she said "Are you going?"  He said "si."  And she didn't even question it :)  Their little boys got rowdy so he spent most of the meeting in the foyer, but Xochitl stayed in the chapel and was crying at one point.  Oh how I ADORE that family. And I think it all came from a tiny invitation....

Hermanas with Branch President Alvorado

On Wednesday Sister Martinez and I went to teach Xochitl and she gave us some nice chismes (gossip).  Her husband is a stinkin' member!!!  He was baptized when he was 14 and then got upset because a member turned out to be a really bad guy.  So Eduardo left the church and never went back.  Xochitl told us that he told her if she gets baptized they'd have to separate because that's church rule, but she had all ready talked to us so she told him that wasn't true.  Then she said that when she gets her answer, no matter what he says, she will act on it.  Just then Eduardo walks into the house and sits down at the table.  I can tell he's trying to listen discreetly and so I asked him about work and such.  Then I invited him to the Christmas party and he tried to give excuses so I invited him to church for 1 hour...and that we were going to sing.  He told me "We'll see."  Then he went into the back bedroom :p  Well we decided to watch "He is The Gift" with them and it was taking forever to load, but every time I thought about saying "Never mind, maybe another time," I decided to keep my mouth shut.  Finally it loaded and I asked Daniel to invite his dad to watch.  Daniel comes back and says, "He's coming."  Next thing I know, out comes Daniel's older brother, and his dad!  I wanted to cry when I saw their entire family sitting in the family room of this tiny trailer, watching a video about Christ together.  Eduardo was really quiet afterwards.  We talked a bit about remembering the true meaning of Christmas, and then we left.  I had no idea that would have an impact, I still don't know if it did, but Eduardo came to church, and that.  Is a Christmas miracle.  Xochitl said to me that he told her not to expect it again, but secretly she hopes this becomes a regular thing.  We all do :)  We have been promising her for so long that she would see him come to church if she would make changes.  She has been, and he came.  I love this gospel!!!!

Swanson, Tenney, Martinez, Short, Clark, Tellez

After church on Sunday we went with some sisters in the branch to sing carols, and deliver scarves they had made to an old folks home.  Obviously they can't speak English very well, but they got so excited every time they handed out a scarf, and would speak the best English they could :)  The recipients were so grateful, and one lady just cried she was so happy.  I love Christmas!!

We got home in time for two lessons.  One with Jesus, who is so sad and stressed about his family.  Poor guy :(  We showed him the scripture in 3 Nephi about putting God first, and promised him that everything else would fall into place.  I also felt prompted to encourage him to pray for miracles.  Everyone deserves a Christmas miracle.  The next lesson was Octavio and Nereyda....they got in a marriage dispute and wanted us to pick who was to blame.  Ay ay ay, we told them to quit blaming each other and start complimenting and do CPR.  Church, pray, read.  Those 3 things as a family -could save a family....of that I am a firm believer!  

We showed Selene, "He is the Gift" this week.  They are not progressing in the least bit :/  We are going to give them a break for a bit, and then maybe they'll be more prepared as a family later.  

Rudolfo is someone from Sister Clark's area and he comes to all the activities, but doesn't want to get baptized because his family is in Mexico and he wants them to be there.  We're going to focus on getting answers and acting on them.  That seems to be a recurring theme in our area....

My first exchanges went pretty well this week.  Knowing and dealing with every one's problems and giving advice and correction is already kind of exhausting.  Those two were pretty easy exchanges though...Sister Faw is awesome and is almost done, and Sister Martinez is a great missionary.  It's just hard being with a new companion 2 days a week.  

Alright you're eyes are probably exhausted from staring at a screen so long!  But our plans for this week are, a Christmas party with the sisters in our zone today at 4,tomorrow Xochitl said she'd let us help her paint her house, and then we work the temple lights, Wednesday we have a District meeting and then we either have to have appointments, or do service.  We want to go caroling :)   The Guerrero's are feeding us that night, we love them :)  Christmas Day we have a zone activity (sports, lunch, Secret Santa) then Talking to families!!!!!!! And then probably more caroling as a zone :)  

It's bound to be a great Christmas!  I have gotten so many letters and packages, and I am SO grateful!!!  Thank you so much for all of the support, I love you so much.  

Merry Christmas family, I miss you so much!  I can't wait to hear your voices on Thursday :)  

I love you, I Love You, I LOVE YOU

Hermana Short
Hermana Elsa & Hermana Ana

Monday, December 15, 2014

Tis' the Season

Well hello again family!  

Did you know this is like your 27th weekly letter home?  That's a lot of weeks!  Sometimes I can't believe it's almost Christmas, other times I wonder what I'm doing here because for goodness sake it's Christmas!  I realized yesterday though that I love being on a mission during this time of year.  I'm so unfocused on myself and everything material and commercial.  Just like any other month for a missionary, we work all day, blink our eyes (some people call it sleeping), open them again and it's a new day, so we get dressed and go to work again.  The only difference is that we utilize the spirit of the season to contact people.  We do have some fun activities planned though for the upcoming week so maybe it will feel more like Christmas.

I have been quite the spoiled missionary this week!  An 11 month package, a 12 days of Christmas package, lots of letters, and a package from the Relief Society!  I can't even tell you how happy all of this made me.  Thank you so much for all the love and support, it takes away homesickness and worry every single time!

12 Days of Christmas!!
Day 1: Pink milk & Caramel popcorn

These past four days can best be described with two words: stressful and entertaining.  Combining two areas was a lot harder than I was expecting.  Balancing all of our investigators and recent converts, and making sure no one slips through the cracks is proving quite difficult!  Not to mention we have Christmas lights twice a week, long meetings twice a week, this week we have two exchanges, weekly planning on Thursday, and an all day temple trip on Friday.  AGH.  We decided we are going to focus on seeing everybody once this week, then if we have time to start round two with them.  I feel really bad every time I think about who we haven't seen, and everything we haven't done, but I have to remind myself to stop dwelling on the past and plan for the future.  The thing I'm most worried about right now is exchanges.  I don't know how to do exchanges!  Tonight is my first one with Sister Faw. I'm not too worried because I love Sister Faw and she's leaving in 4 weeks.   It will be a good practice and I can learn plenty more than she can learn from me.  Wednesday is with Sister Martinez who came out the same day as me.  It feels weird to have to evaluate my mission friends and especially the ones who have more time in the mission than me!  I should be learning from them!  Oh well...I guess I'll just do my best and hopefully be able to make a few people laugh!

Sister Clark and I are getting along surprisingly well!  We both like to work and we are teaching in perfect unity.  I have actually loved it so far!  Not as much as Sister Ferre, but having a companion who understands everything is one nice change :)  I feel like I've made a tense apartment into one that laughs all the time which is a proud accomplishment.   We live with Sisters Martinez and Tenney.  They did not like Sister xxxx and xxxx!  The 4 of them had all sorts of issues together....but now we laugh all the time and I love having so many people to talk to.  It's just fun! The other day during studies this bird was squawking outside super loud.  All of a sudden I hear Sister Martinez yell at me from the other room, "Sister Short! Be quiet!!."  How rude!  I sound nothing like that!  So the next day we are reading out of the white handbook about not having pets.  I yell from my desk, "Sister Martinez you need to leave!"  She yells back "Why?"  I say "I am not allowed to have pets of any kind!"  All of a sudden she's in our room tackling me.  Hahaha good times :)  

A hawk we found in our parking lot.  Sister Clark got out to take a picture
and it yelled at was kind of scary. 

Thanks to all these packages and our dear sweet members...I've been eating a ton of sugar lately!!  One night I was so hyper I was doing somersaults and running in circles in our apartment.  Later, Sister Clark and I were laughing about it and she tells me "You need to come with a warning sign."  I laughed so hard, I know I'm a nut sometimes, but seeing people laugh and smile is really why I do it.  It helps all of us relieve stress!

We handed Lorenzo off to the Elders this week.  They came with us to a lesson to talk about the Priesthood, and he loved listening to them and connected well.  They also gave him a blessing which helped him gain trust.  He came to church on Sunday, but without the girls for the first time :/  I'm going to tackle Yazury one of these days.  We are still going to try to visit their family once a week for FHE's,but focus on Yazury now.  I feel relieved about our decision :)

We taught Rocio this week and now I'm praying for something odd.  You see... her supposedly ex-boyfriend is in jail, and depending on his trial this week could be released, or sentenced to 25 years.  We are praying for the latter.  Rocio needs to move on and find a better life.  And she told us she knows that, but she just falls so easily.  At the beginning of the lesson we had with her she refused to start praying again and said she didn't need it.  She also said she didn't want to come to church anymore.  We talked to her about what she wants for her future and we were very blunt in telling her that this "better life" and "change" won't come if she doesn't stop taking the steps that she knows she needs to take!  By the end of the lesson she said she was coming to church, and would start praying daily again.  Sometimes it just takes a good shaking :)  Oh man she is a blunt woman though!  She told me my hair was a hot mess, my jacket and skirt didn't match, my shoes were scuffed, and I was wearing a granny shirt.  I laughed so hard!  We all know if missionaries were to dress like her, we'd get severely chastised!  Granted, my hair was a mess, but hey it was the end of the day!  And mom, you know how I love to match ;)  I love Rocio so much!  Even when she's rude...I just want to hug her because I have so much hope for her....I just wish she could see the same things I see!

Ernie and Jairo came to sports night this week again and played basketball with us and some members.  It's a great fellow shipping activity for them, and now it will be comfortable for them when we bring those same members to lessons with us.  They haven't been answering their phones since Friday though...they might have gone to Texas for Christmas.  I never know :p

Me eating a salad so Jairo wouldn't drink coffee!

We had a neat experience with a family from Sister Clark's part of the area.  They are the Lopez family and Sisters Wheelwright and Penalba got the grandpa and kids active again after a lot of work, however the grandma was still working Sundays.  Before we went into that lesson I prayed that Sister Lopez would have a miracle and be able to come to church on Sunday for the first time in a long time.  The first thing that gets yelled at us as we walk in the door was "My grandma's coming to churchon Sunday!"  whoa.  Sure enough she walked in looking dressed up and exuberant Sunday morning.  Seeing their whole family sit together in Sacrament meeting was so great!  The Grandma and Grandpa are working towards getting sealed in the temple, and coming to church together is a huge first step!

We also had another family miracle this week.  Usually when I've gone to the Ramos home in the past, they are polite and listen to us, but don't have a whole lot of motivation to do anything.  Well this week we watched "He is the Gift" with them and afterwards we talked about how they could better embrace the Gift of Christ this season.  My mouth almost dropped when Hermano Ramos said he wanted to start doing family scripture study on Monday nights. His daughter immediately protested and told him about her Monday plans.  He said "Well it doesn't have to be Monday, but we need to do it!"  Yay Hermano!!!  Miracles do happen!

At the Mesa Temple Lights this week, my favorite contact comes from a 24 year old named Josh.  We had just gotten onto the grounds and so it was still light outside and hardly anyone was there.  Sister Clark and I noticed a guy laying on one of the benches next to an Energy drink and a motorcycle helmet.  We passed by and I said "Hi" but he pretended to be sleeping.  We went a little farther and then turned around and watched him.  He pulled out his phone to text someone so we returned to the bench and stubbornly stood there trying to talk to him.  We found out he had been having a hard month, his mom died the year before, he was a member who'd fallen way off the path, and he was feeling really down in the dumps.  I asked him why he came to the temple.  His response was almost inaudible and yet incredible "To feel the spirit again, because it's been a long time."  We let him talk to us and then asked what we could do.  He told us he would love a scripture. We told the story of Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail and then read the words of comfort that the Lord gave to Joseph.  Josh sat up and thanked us for talking.  We told him he was doing the right thing and that Christ was waiting for him with open arms.  After walking away we watched him sit there a moment longer and then leave.  I don't know what was going through his head, who he was, or where he'd been, let alone what he was going to do.  All I know is that he was guided to the temple that day, and we were guided to him.  

We also taught Jesus this week and he is progressing!  He did his reading and this week we taught him the principles of the gospel.  Well mainly faith and repentance.  I know the Spirit was helping us that night because I had words coming out of my mouth in Spanish that I usually have to think about, but not that night.  Also Sister Clark and I taught in such unity that it was obvious we were being led.  He didn't come to church again, so our focus now is bringing members so he can get an invite from someone other than us.

Last night we went to our Stake Christmas concert and I had very small expectations, but I was blown away!  If nothing else happens this December, that alone made Christmas here great.  Some members shared some neat Christmas stories, the choir was phenomenal, and when some kids from our branch sang a song in Spanish, ahh it was fantastic!  I love the Spirit of Christmas so much!  There was a song sang that I'd never heard before, but one of the lines stuck out to me.  It said "A still small voice, to one day cry for me."  I've always known we celebrate Christmas because of Christ's birth, and I know the nativity story, but I didn't realize how significant that event was.  That was the moment that we all had hope, that little baby had to be perfect so we could one day be perfect.  That one baby would cry tears for every person who has, is, or will ever live.  How grateful I am this Christmas, for the birth of Jesus Christ.

Sister Jackson made fun of my leggings so she required that I take a picture.
 I was cold!  It was a fair trade though because she gave us a ride home :)

Today we are working the temple lights, tomorrow I have exchanges in Paradise Valley, Wednesday we have a 3 hour zone meeting, Thursday is weekly planning,Friday we have an all day temple trip, and then we are working the lights that night, Saturday is our branch Christmas party, and Sunday I am playing the piano for all the musical numbers in sacrament meeting.  It should be quite the eventful week!  I love the excitement around Christmas.  And the people here are so humble...Christmas is all about family.  

I miss you family!  I hope you have a great week this week and get some snow!  If you go to temple square say hi to Sisters Heuea, Penalba, and Gariki for me.  Thank you for the letters and packages...I hope your crow tastes good mom, because I love it! :) 

I love you, I Love You, I LOVE YOU!!!

Hermana Short


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Peace Before the Storm

Dearest Family,

I told Sister Ferre this week that I feel like the first 4 months of my mission were kind of rough, then the Lord gave me a break and gave me the transfer with Sister Ferre.  Then he said, "Ok, you've had your run hard and fast!"  This transfer is going to be quite crazy!

Saying Goodbye to Hermana Ferre
President gave me and Sister Ferre a couple small hints this week to prepare us for the inevitable...we got separated!  We were both super sad, but I'm excited for her at the same time.  She is now serving in one of the mountain zones with Sister Wheelwright whom I adore!  It's Sister Wheelwright's last transfer so Sister Ferre will take over that area once she was sad to let her go...but I felt good knowing she was going with one of my mission idols. 

I got the call Saturday afternoon letting me know that I am now companions with Sister Clark from Washington,  we would be combining the areas in our branch, and that I'd be serving as a Sister Training Leader.   AGHHH!   I moved all my stuff to their apartment which is a different complex....about a mile down the street.  Now we are trying to figure out how to balance two completely different areas and merge them into one.  Right now we still have 2 area books, 2 cell phones, and probably 20 people from each area that we want to focus on.  Then add on exchanges with Sisters twice a week, Mesa Temple lights once a week, and extra leadership meetings.  I feel like my responsibilities keep going around my head like a carousel, and sometimes I stress out, other times I try to forget about it.  Nevertheless,  at least I won't have time to think about being homesick!  I won't have time for anything!  

Sister Clark is awesome....we all ready had to talk about unity in teaching, because she'll just take over the entire thing if I let her.  I'm excited to learn from her and she laughs with me all the time which makes it easy to be light-hearted and not let myself get down or too stressed out.   We'll see how time with her goes...I'm guessing it will only be one transfer.  She only has 2 left, and I doubt they'll keep me here that long!  We will see though.  Oh and Sister Clark is from Spokane, Washington, she's 21, she's an identical twin, and loves to chew ice.  Ha ha

My new companion... Hermana Clark

I think we are going to have to give Lorenzo to the Elders.   We need him to love the gospel and going to church because he knows it's right and he needs it, not because he loves the missionaries.  It's really hard for me to do this, but it's not about me and I'm just grateful for the opportunity I did have to teach him.  We were able to teach him about family history this week and we have a member that is going to work with him on it.  He seems excited about being able to find his ancestors....he says they are Jewish and Armanian?  We'll see.  :)  I'm pretty sure he's going to have a lot of Mexican ancestors in there!

We heard from Julio this week!  Sister Ferre and I were teaching his roommates Jairo and Ernie one night outside when Julio called Ernie.  He let me talk to him on his phone and I got the best news ever....Julio found and went to the church in his town in Bolivia!!!  Now that is a solid convert :)  I can't wait for him to come back!

Jairo and Ernie are hilarious characters.  They feed us every single time we go over.  Jairo loves music and when he found out I played piano, we showed up for our next lesson and he had a keyboard pulled outside so I would play!  We showed them the "He is the Gift" video that night and Jairo loved it.  Ernie was distracted by something else, but I could tell by the end that he was feeling the Spirit.  After the video we transitioned into the principles of the gospel and they both listened and accepted our message intently. As usual we were teaching with the pamphlets and asking them what they see in the picture.  There's pictures of Christ healing people with faith, Christ getting baptized, and then we turn to the picture of men confirming someone.  Before we can even say, "What do you see here?"  Jairo says in broken English."I don't see the Holy Ghost there!" Oh Jairo.... On Monday we taught them the Word of Wisdom and I challenged them to try going 3 days without coffee.  They said they would do it if I ate a salad every day for those 3 days.  Not cool!  The things I will do for investigators....That lesson ended on great note though.  They wanted Sister Ferre to say the closing prayer because she's leaving.  Sweet loving Sister Ferre was trying so hard to say this sincere, heartfelt prayer and was doing an amazing job!  Then I hear this, "Gracias padre por la tenedor de Navidad."  HAHAHAHAHA I started laughing so hard!  She was trying to say "Thank you for the Christmas season," but instead said, "Thank you Father, for the Christmas Fork."  Ernie's face was super confused....then he told me to stop laughing at her.  Sister Ferre gasps and says "Oh!  That's fork!"  Now I'm almost falling out of my chair laughing!  She quickly ends the prayer and I tried to start breathing again.  All 4 of us got a good laugh that night, and now Sister Ferre is expecting us to send her Christmas Fork's in the mail :)  

Biking at night
 I saw one of the biggest miracles and answers to prayers this week!  Rocio returned!!!!!!!!!  I was sitting at our Relief Society dinner on Saturday night, playing Christmas hymns on the piano when Sister Baros comes over and says, "Did you know Rocio is here?"  I left the piano in the middle of the song, ran into the kitchen and Rocio says "Hi!"  I practically tackled her :)  She doesn't like hugs, but I gave her a big one!  She patted my back and said "It's ok!"  She said she didn't want to talk about where she'd been, or what she'd been doing, but she broke up with her Boyfriend who is now in jail, and she's moved back in with her mom, and we can start teaching her again.  She also said she wants to get her tattooes removed :)  She stubbornly told me she was not going to church again though.  The next day, when she walked into Relief Society, I just grinned!  Heavenly Father doesn't always answer our prayers in the way we'd expect, but I feel strongly that this was the only way Rocio would get it through her head that her boyfriend was not right for her or her daughter.  I love that girl so much!

Kevin the peacock! (Someone needs to tell Adyson that Kevin is a she)

The Relief Society party was really fun.  I got to eat Honey Baked Ham!!!  And rolls!!  But that's not the best part....they played the Christmas radio station in the background :)  It may have been apostate, but all of us Hermanas just sat there and grinned for an hour while we listened to our beloved Christmas songs!  I may have even danced a little....dang...I need to repent.  :)

This week I finished the Book of Mormon in English and Spanish!! I've been reading them both at the same speed so I could understand everything and begin marking up my Spanish Scriptures.  By the end of this year I will have finished the Book of Mormon 3 times on my mission!  I'm in Alma 42 of English right now, when I finish I'll begin in Spanish again!

Serving on the grounds of the Mesa Temple is a neat experience.  I've been twice now, and basically I feel like we are there to take pictures for people, but sometimes they let us talk to them!  Usually...especially, if they're members....they say "hi" and walk away quickly because they're afraid we'll ask for referrals.  Don't do that if you go to Salt Lake!  Always talk to the missionaries....and if you can...try to give them serious referrals.  We live for member referrals!  When we first get there at 5pm it's my favorite time.  It's just dark enough to see the lights, but the crowd hasn't gotten there yet.  It's gorgeous and peaceful and I just want to sit there and absorb it :)  We will definitely have to go together after my mission!  

Mesa Temple lights
This week at church we had Xochitl and Daniel, Lorenzo and his granddaughters, Jairo, and Rocio.  Sister Curay bore her testimony about how the gospel changes people and how it changed her husband from an alcoholic to a ward mission leader.  Xochitl made a comment about how she'll keep coming so one day her husband will change too!  He's not an alcoholic, but she and I both know he could use a softer heart. 

The Dunn family sent me and Sister Ferre an amazing Christmas package this week!  We got socks, donuts, more treats, a Christmas blanket, and decorations!  It was so fun to unwrap presents :)  She said we could!  There's only one that we can't unwrap til Christmas!  Me and Sister Ferre are going to take pictures with our mystery present on Christmas and send it to each other :)  We wore our Christmas socks to play basketball on sports night...they were a hit!

Thank you Dunn Family!  DeAnn, Ben and kids!!
I also got a really nice letter from Stephanie and Phil with a gift card to Wal Mart!  That was really nice, and I loved reading their family updates :)  I LOVE FAMILY UPDATES.  Hint Hint :)

I've gotten to drive the soccer mom van all around town!  We had to go cold-weather shopping for Sister Ferre one day with special permission, I drove us to Mesa, and now I drive the van on P-days...I love it!  

Me and the Elders of our zone...or most of them. The whole zone was supposed to be in it, but the Sisters were all still fixing the timers, as you can see, the Elders thought it was hilarious!

 Well family I think that is it for this week, or at least those were my high lights!  
Have a great week!  I love you all so much, and thank you for praying for me....I'm going to need them this month!

I love you, I Love You, I LOVE YOU
Hermana Short

Sister Martinez, Sister Tenney eating lunch with Hermana Ferre and I at Salsitas