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

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