Monday, January 26, 2015

I'm a Changed Woman!

Familia Mia,

You will never believe what happened to me this week.  Sister Clark and I were having our companionship inventory and one of the points is to tell each other your strong points.  In all seriousness, I'm not even lying, Sister Clark told me my strong point was talking to people.  I laughed and told her she was crazy, but she was dead serious!  Me, the one who hates talking to the cashier at fast food restaurants, has developed the ability to talk to people.  Missions do bring miracles!

Saying goodbye to Hermana Jackson at Transfers

Did you love the pictures of me in my soccer mom van?  I'm quite proud of it...sometimes I let Sister Clark drive it, but I don't feel as cool in the passenger seat.  When we drive home from sports night we roll the windows down and play Mormon Tabernacle Choir loud....the people on the streets need the spirit too!  This week we filled up the van for 1.75 a gallon!!  That's half of what I used to pay for the Honda!  I'm going to store some gas in my suitcase and bring it home :)

This week has been a roller-coaster ride, hopefully I can remember all the good and challenging moments!

First Xochitl and Daniel.  We call Xochitl our Eternigator because she seems to be an eternal investigator, but I'm hoping things are going to speed up here soon because she really enjoys church and is making friends with the other Sisters in the branch so we are hoping they will help her progression.  She only got 3 hours of sleep Saturday night, but came to all 3 hours of church on Sunday!  She also was talking to Concepcion at church and they were asking each other if they've been baptized yet...hopefully we can get Xochitl to Concepcions baptism next Saturday the 7th!  I love those ladies :)

Concepcion is still progressing rapidly and perfectly.   We went in this week with the plan to teach her about keeping the Sabbath Day holy.  Before we even said anything, she told us she got a new job where she will work FridaySaturday, and Sunday nights.  We didn't say anything, we just went through the 10 commandments as part of our plan and then focused more on how to keep the Sabbath Day Holy.  She looked at us and said "Ok, I'm going to tell my boss I can't work Sundays."  She is so amazing...she doesn't even have to be asked or encouraged, she just hears a commandment and takes steps to follow it!  She broke up with her boyfriend right after the chastity lesson because she didn't like "ugly" things he would say to her.  It's been awesome for her family to be so supportive too.  First her daughter Didi, (who Concepcion now pushes to go to church in Mexico every week) then her mom Delfina.  Her mom leaves today or tomorrow and then Concepcion will be left with her inactive son, who might actually be showing signs of openness.  She invites him to church, and he says one more sentence to us each time we come over :)  He can probably see the happy change in his mom....

Concepcion and her mother, Delfina.

 Ernie and Jairo are getting there...well Jairo at least.  We taught him Wednesday night I believe and we decided to talk about his baptism date to see if it is still something he wants to work towards.  It's February 7 and we didn't know if he'd feel ready.  He was pretty gung-ho about it, but I personally don't think he's quite there.  He still doesn't know/believe this is the only true church, but he likes it!  He came again yesterday, but I'm almost positive he went to his Christian church the night before. I think he just goes because he likes Christian rock music and he plays the drums there.  We are going to talk to him tonight.  They are such good guys though...and not just because we are sisters!  I don't want another Lorenzo situation.  On Thursday our dinner appointment cancelled so there were going to be 7 starving missionaries that day.  (We have food at  home, but it's not as good.)  So Sister Clark and I got put in charge of finding someone to feed us, and we texted Ernie and Jairo.  They fed all 7 of us steaks, an Olive-garden-like salad, garlic bread, and then pie and ice cream for dessert.  It was delicious!  They came to sports night and then took the Elders home and bought them Panda on the way. Now if we could get their love for the doctrine as deep for their love of the church social life.  Ernie is progressing slower mainly because he can't get work off to come to church.  He's asked his boss so now we're all praying and trying to see what God can do.  His restaurant will be packed for the Super Bowl though so he's guaranteed another Sunday at work. day!

Oh, funny story about that dinner.  Sister Clark and I were sharing the message, and we were teaching out of  Luke 10 where Christ is talking to Mary and Martha.  Mary is listening to Christ, and Martha is worrying about getting the house clean.  The point is that we want to be more like Mary and worry more about what Christ has to say, then anything else we have to do.  Before explaining the story though we asked "Which one of you wants to be Mary, and which one Martha?"  Ernie responded "Well...I've had bad luck with Marthas."  The 6 of us were dying laughing.  That message ended up having a pretty big impact on them though.  They both sorrowfully admitted they are more like Martha, but they want to be like Mary.  Don't we all?

Octavio, Octavio, Octavio.  We texted him on Saturday morning and asked if we could pass by that night.  He responded in the negative and told us he and Nereyda had decided to get separated.  WHAT?!?!  Sick to our stomachs, Sister Clark and I started flipping out.  We decided to go visit Nereyda while Octavio was at work.  She didn't say anything about it for a while and then told us Octavio was mad and told her to leave but she just laughed.  We didn't push it further, and decided to call Octavio that night to see if he was still coming to church.  He told us yes, and that he talked to Nereyda and they calmed down.  We were so mad...don't text us scary things like that if you're not serious!!  Needless to say we took Hermana and Hermano Guerrero with us last night to see them and asked them to give some marriage advice since we can't.  They are the ones getting sealed on Saturday and they were so perfect in the lesson!  Octavio and Nereyda told them their problems very openly.  To our terrible amusement, Octavio's biggest problem is beans.  That's right-- I said beans.  He wants his wife to make him beans, but she says she doesn't have time to make him all natural beans the way he likes them.  What in the world?? Sometimes I could shake those two!  They felt better after an hour of counseling and we are having a family home evening in the Guerrero home this Tuesday.  Atleast they're progressing in the gospel.  They haven't missed a week of church in a while, Octavio received the priesthood yesterday, and they're going to start doing weekly family home evenings.  I'm determined to see them in the temple in a year!

Octavio, Nereyda & family

Oh also, a couple months ago the missionaries found out that Octavio's parents live nearby.  He gave Sister Clark and Sister Baros vague directions on how to get there.  I believe it was like "Cambridge street, 3 houses from the stop sign."  When Sister Clark and I asked for more specific directions so we could contact them, he told us not to go over because they are hard headed catholics.  Also he refused to tell them he was getting baptized.  Grr.  Well last week when he wasn't home, we got directions from Nereyda :)  We went to contact them on Saturday and kind of guessed on which house it was, but when the man opened the door we just stood there in shock.  His dad is the older clone of Octavio, and they have the same voice!  He and his wife let us in, talked to us for a while, asked us about our beliefs and invited us back whenever we wanted!  We have an appointment with them for Wednesday.  We called to tell Octavio and he was shocked, but seemed pretty excited :)  When asked on how we found them, we reminded him of the directions he gave us....haha we didn't bring in Nereyda's help :)

Speaking of the Guerrero's, we get to attend their sealing this Saturday!  We're super excited especially since we've been dying to see the Gilbert temple.  It's all anyone talks about.  They are an older couple...ok probably not that old to some of you...probably early 50's.  He has a few kids from a previous marriage, but they're all grown, and I believe the wife passed away.  They got married a couple years ago and are both super great tools in our branch.  We are incredibly excited to be there with them!

Yesterday a hermano shared an analogy in sacrament meeting that I thought was really neat.  I'm going to try to explain it in English :)  So there was a rancher in Mexico who lost one of his horses.  He looked all over, all day, for that horse.  When night came he was about to give up, but remembered a dried-up pond, with a hole nearby that the horse probably fell into.  He decided to see if the horse was there.  Sure enough, he found the horse in the hole, still alive, but impossible to rescue.  The next day he decided to call his neighbors to help him bury the horse and put it out of its misery.  But every shovelful of dirt they threw on the horse, the horse shook it off.  Pretty soon there was a good sized pile the horse was standing on.  They kept shoveling dirt, the horse kept standing on top of it, shaking off the dirt, till eventually the horse was high enough to climb out.  Sometimes personally we get stuck in a hole, and it feels like more and more tasks and expectations get piled on.  But it is these things that we think will kill us, that actually bring us up, and save us.  Ay it sounds better in Spanish, but I still love the point :)  

And on that note, I'll end my letter this week.  More exciting things to come I'm sure :)  I love you so so much and I miss you all.  

I love you, I Love You, I LOVE YOU

Missing these roomies!!
Hermana Short
No mom, I didn't wear this out in public... but I thought
about it. :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Halfway Transfer

Buenos Dias Familia,

Sisters have 12 transfers in a mission, and this transfer marks my 6th one!  So by the end of these 6 weeks I'll be halfway through this thing!  That gives me mixed emotions.

Transfers went as expected.  Sister Clark and I are staying together again (hallelujah), and we are now the only sisters in our branch.  There are 2 sets of Elders, and one of them is a trio.  We don't like being the minority :p  But we are going to be the branch favorites now!  Everybody loves the Sisters and now we're the only ones :)  Presidente Alvorado also told me I'm the first missionary to stay this long in his branch, so basically I'll be a legend!  It will kill me the day I have to leave this area.  Sister Martinez and Sister Tenney both left to different areas in the valley, so Sister xxxx and her companion moved in.  We're praying hard for patience and humility, so we shall overcome!  The hardest thing is we played a lot with those other sisters and we all teased each other and had a good time.  Now we feel like we have to be serious, it's just not the same.  It was hard to say goodbye to those other sisters yesterday.  

Sister Clark goes home in 6 weeks, and she doesn't like to be reminded.  So I keep a daily countdown for her :)  My arms are bruised now....I'm really going to miss her.  We have as much fun as Sister Ferre and I, plus she's been out so long, and in a different country, so I learn a lot from her, and the doctrine she knows amazes me every day!   

Since the last time I emailed we had a lot of neat experiences, so I'll get started now :)

Concepcion!  This week we taught her the law of chastity, and the word of wisdom.  Luckily she had no issues choosing to live both of them!  We were talking to her and her mother one day when Concepcion started to tell us that she doesn't like her name.  She asked "When they baptize me, can they change my name?"  We cracked up, she was really disappointed when we told her no!  During one of the lessons we followed up to see if she was still praying to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet.  She told us "Si lo hice." Or "Yes I did it."  We responded, "Have you received your answer?"  "Si."  Dying of suspense we asked "What was it?" Tears filled her eyes as she replied "Que si."  That is the first time I have seen someone receive such a powerful answer to their prayers so quickly.  It just shows how true her intentions are, and how sincere she is about learning and living the gospel.  She didn't make it to church this week because some family came in town to visit her mother, but she's coming this week :)

Oh silly me, Octavio and Nereyda should have come first!  Octavio did get baptized!!  That was quite the stressful night, especially when he was 20 minutes late to the baptism, but he finally showed up, and he did it, he got baptized and confirmed the next day.  He's not a man of many words, and he wouldn't share his testimony at the baptism, but we could see in his face that he felt changed, that he was happy, and that he knew what he did was right.  We just wish he'd say more than "Todo bien." Or "All is well."  One night as we were waiting for Octavio to come home so we could teach him, we were talking to his wife Nereyda.  During Relief Society she had shared her testimony of prayer which was a huge step for her.  She does not like to stand in front of people and talk like that, and she was so nervous, but the spirit was strong.  As we spoke with her that night she told us she wanted to tell us the whole story of why she believes so much in prayer.  Basically, Nereyda was at a really low point in her life when one day she humbled herself and asked God if he was true.  She told us "Incredibly, the very next day, the Elders knocked on my door."  She bore her testimony to us of prayer, and that she knows this gospel is true.  She's still got a lot of work to do, but her foundation is slowly becoming the gospel, and we love watching the changes in her :)  

Funny story from their home this week.  I was trying to ask Octavio how tall he is and so I said "Cuantos pies tiene?"  He replied in all seriousness "2."  I was so confused.  I asked him how many feet he has, instead of how many feet he measures.  Everyone laughed at me :)  We ate at their home twice in the past week, and Octavio was more talkative than I've ever seen him.  He lectured us all on not getting married til we were 38 or older.  He also kept making everyone eat more, and more, and more pizza.  Sister Martinez puked on the way home he gave her so much to eat!  Poor girl.  Their daughter Ashley adores us.  Ana and Elsa have to do everything with her.  Other kids in the branch have called us that too now.  We even helped her with 1st grade homework this week.  Poor Nereyda can't help Ashley read, because she doesn't know English!  She said she usually uses Google translate to tell Ashley how to pronounce words.  Helping Ashley helped me cement my decision to teach :)  I just love it :)

I decided to climb the wall and then couldn't get down!

Ernie and Jairo have not been available for lessons lately because they've been working a ton, but they did feed 5 missionaries this week!  We made them listen to church music while we ate, and they actually quite enjoyed it :)  Sister Martinez has been struggling with knee pain, so Ernie offered to let her borrow his shock-therapy thing.  As soon as we got home I was ready to "help" her try it.  That ding-dong gave me the remote :) :)  I slowly moved the levels up, until at one point she was lying there demanding the remote because her legs were twitching and she couldn't bend them.  I was laughing so hard!  I told her to come get it from me and then we both busted up laughing cause she couldn't move her legs! So she threw shoes at me.  A couple mornings later I woke up to find her attaching the thing to my legs while I slept.  Luckily, I got them off in time....oh I'll miss her! 

We know we're changing lives when our investigators tell us "I was about to ___ but then I thought about the Hermanas!"  That happened with Concepcion this week, when she wanted to cancel our lesson to go to a meeting with friends, but then decided she probably shouldn't cancel the people who talk to her about God.  It also happened with Xochitl this week.  We went to talk to her and she told us that yesterday she was really wanting a cup of coffee, and she decided it would really help her.  So she planned to make it, and then change her clothes and brush her teeth, so Sister Clark and I wouldn't smell it on her.  Then she said she realized how terrible that was because even if we didn't see, God would!  She didn't drink the coffee :)  I said "And alcohol?  Because Hermana, we are friends on Facebook!"  She was so embarrassed, she said a couple days after posting that, she remembered the Hermanas would see it and she was so embarrassed.   Like everyone, we make mistakes.  Her breaking her coffee habit is the best news yet though :)  

Yesterday was stressful, but there was one moment that changed everything.  Sister Clark and I had to taxi 4 missionaries to transfers in the van.  We got there, unloaded and loaded luggage, talked to a few missionaries and then made the trek back to Phoenix.  We found our apartment rearranged and a couple other things that were disappointing (from the new sisters who moved in)  so we left the apartment irritated, but whatever, we needed to work.  We got to a home where we were going to contact a referral we were given, and we were about to get to the door when the zone leaders called.  They needed us back in Scottsdale to bring people home...apparently we weren't supposed to leave.  I was on my way back to the car when Sister Clark asked if we could quickly contact the referral first.  We haven't had luck with referrals lately so I didn't have much hope.  A woman named Claudia answered the door and upon telling her who we were- she told us she got baptized in our church a few years back! What?!  She invited us back next week to teach her and we said our usual, "Is there anything we can help you with?"  She asked us to pray for her, and told us she has a tumor in her chest.  She began to cry, and looked down at her two grandkids standing by her legs.  I felt horrible for her.  Sister Clark followed the Spirit as she told Claudia that there are no coincidences and that God knew what she needed.  We offered to get the Elders to give her a blessing, and she accepted, so we will be going there tomorrow.  The person we were referred to didn't even live there anymore, but Heavenly Father knew we needed to find Claudia yesterday.  I reflected on that many times yesterday as we dealt with the little problems we had.  There are so many worse things that could happen.  It was very humbling.

Our other investigators aren't really progressing right now, but we're working on that.  The work here NEVER ends :)  It's incredible.

I love you family, I hope you have a fantastic week.  I know Heavenly Father will bless you all for the stress and hard work you're handling right now!

I love you, I Love You,  I LOVE YOU

Hermana Short
Sister Clark wouldn't get out of bed!

Monday, January 12, 2015

7 months behind summer to go!

Hola Familia!  

Looking at the amount of months left in my mission doesn't phase me anymore, what makes me groan is waking up knowing I'm one day closer to summer.  Every time the sun shines now, I want to run away!  However, at interviews this week I put in a good word with Sister Sweeney and she's going to help me get to the mountains for the summer!  When I was on exchanges last week a sister was trying to defend the weather and said, "Well at least it's a dry heat here."  I looked at her and said, "I don't remember being dry on my bike in July!"  Everyone thought it was hilarious....I was serious!!

Interviews this week went really well, he asked me how I was doing and how I was handling the stress, asked me for my opinions on how some things in transfers should go, and then he had Sister Clark come in to give us a training on feeling the Holy Ghost.  I guess that's something he's been focusing on with the companionship's this transfer.  It sounded pretty set in stone that I will be here another transfer.  The other sisters in our branch are probably both leaving though, and 2 elders are coming in their place.  Sister Clark and I don't know how we feel about being the only sisters in the branch, but we're running low on Spanish sisters here in the mission so there's not much President can do.  We'll probably just continue to tell the Elders what to do.  Just kidding....kind of :)

One side note.  Next week is Wednesday P-Day so don't have a panic attack  :)  

This upcoming Saturday is my third baptism!  Octavio had his interview on Saturday night and to his delight he passed!  He came to church again yesterday and let the Branch Presidency announce his baptism over the pulpit, so he must be pretty serious about this.  We were a little worried he would back out, so we called himSaturday morning to see if he was still planning on the interview and he said "Yes, I'm ready!"  Even his wife, Nereyda was shocked when he actually went.  I want to see that family sealed so bad!  Funny story about them....while we were at their house one night, Nereyda was in the other room putting fake eyelashes on someone, so I started to fold their kids' laundry while we sat on the couch and taught Octavio.  Well in the mix of the laundry was men's underwear so I just left that and folded the baby clothes.  Nereyda, when she comes out and realizes I folded the clothes looks at me with wide eyes and says "His underwear too?!"  Octavio looked at me, and freaked out!  We were all laughing so hard I couldn't speak to tell him I hadn't touched them!  I felt bad he was so embarrassed, but it was so funny! 

We had a great lesson with Xochitl this week.  She has a cousin of another faith, that doesn't "trash" the Mormons, but she tells Xochitl things about us that make her worry.  One of them was about baptisms for the dead.  We explained the purpose of baptisms for the dead and Xochitl told us "Ohhh ok that makes sense."  Then she brings up the Book of Mormon and how her cousin told her we couldn't have anything, but the bible.  We talked to her about where the Book came from, why we need it, and that it teaches the same Christ centered principles as the Bible.  Again she felt so much better and said she was going to read it.  (I don't know why she doesn't ask these sooner.)  After this we were asking her to bring her oldest son, Carlos to church and she began telling us that she's pushed him his whole life, and she feels bad about it, so she's trying to let him make his own decisions.  She began to cry as she told us that she has felt so bad about things she has said to him, that she has apologized multiple times for making him feel bad.  But she still feels bad, and the guilt won't go away.  The first question out of our mouths was "Hermana, you've asked forgiveness of your son, have you asked forgiveness from God?"  Her face told us she had never thought of that before!  Oh how I love using the gospel to help my investigators find peace.  We talked about repentance, and now she is going to take the next steps of repentance to let go of that guilt.  You know what comes after repentance right?  Baptism!!!  One day it will day

In church on Sunday, Xochitl and Daniel only made it to the last hour again, but the program was 4 members and two of the missionaries talking about why they chose to serve missions.  Xochitl was quite inspired I guess, and she asked Daniel if he was going to serve.  He grinned and nodded, I'm so proud!

Concepcion is progressing splendidly :)  We taught her the Plan of Salvation this week, and then the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Oh oh!  Ready for this miracle?  Remember last week when I told you that I wished I could tell Concepcion's member mother everything that's been happening?  That night when we went to teach her, she announced "My mother's coming to visit from Mexico!"  My mouth just dropped open :)  We met her mom this week, and she yacked the whole lesson, but at least it was about the gospel :)  Concepcion has so much support in this decision she's making!  The two of them came to all 3 hours of church yesterday, and Concepcion even signed up in relief society to help us clean the church on Friday :)  She's so good!!  We have a lesson with her this evening and she's inviting her inactive son to listen in as well.  

So I have basically turned into the joke of Friday night sport's night!  Some of my shots are hilariously terrible and I will be laughing at myself so hard, that I miss the ball people pass to me!   But of course I also love to play hard sometimes! On Sunday when Hermano Tejada announced sports night in class, he told everyone that they can come, but I always like to win, and I'll do anything to win.  Everyone that was there on Friday cracked up.  So embarrassing!  He was probably referring to the time I jumped on Sister Tenney's back....she's so good at basketball, I couldn't steal from her, so I improvised :)  

We found two new families to teach this week! The familia Selenas, and the familia Garcia.  The Garcia family we are still trying to discern interest with.  Their first question was about how the church can help them financially. :p  (Sadly this happens often) After explaining that we as missionaries can only help with spiritual needs, they told us they were open to us coming over, but they couldn't come to church because they had other plans.  When we went Sunday morning to invite them one more time, they were getting ready to go to another church.  Hmm kind of fishy.  We see potential in the mother of that house, but not the dad quite yet.

The Selenas family is a younger couple with 4 kids under the age of 7.  They soaked up the Restoration, and accepted to be baptized if they find out through prayer that the message is true!  The Lord has been blessing us 10-fold with families to teach which shows us that sometimes we have to drop the families we love, who aren't quite prepared, in order to show our faith so the Lord can bless us with prepared families.  

We had two service projects this week.  The first was for our sweet blind member.  She said she has bed bugs and wanted us to go to home depot for her to find this certain solution to get rid of them.   Well, when we saw the bottle we saw that it was for outdoor use, on insects and such that live in the dirt and grass.  So when we got to home-depot, we found a bed bug spray and called and asked if we could get that one instead.  She was hesitant, but told us we could.  Then she had us lift up the mattress and spray the bed for her.  AGH.  We were a little nervous and I don't know how she knew because she can't see our faces, but she says "don't be scared!  There's not that many."  So I started spraying that thing like no tomorrow.  Well....maybe I sprayed a little too much because toxic fumes were floating around in the air and we all had to run out of the house coughing!  We took turns going inside to spray more parts of the bed, and finally we couldn't handle it.  Poor Hermana Toledo had to have a friend come pick her up for a few hours because she couldn't go inside her house.  Last time Sister Clark and I pick out bug spray!

The second service project was for a less-active family in our area, and they are hoarders.  There is 7 of them in a 2 bedroom apartment, and they had piles and piles of clothes and toys and papers, and stuffed animals.  Ay ay ay.  After 90 minutes we had 3 bags of clothes that were too small for the kids, 1 giant bag of toys, and one large bag of other junk.  Sister Clark and I had to run to a meeting after that, but the other missionaries stayed.  Apparently they were told to stop cleaning and just paint the filthy walls.  That's pretty normal here, why sand paper the walls or clean the gunk off?  Just paint over them!  The whole time I was thinking "If my mom were here....everything would be thrown away!" 

Jairo and Ernie are both progressing as of yesterday!  They've both been reading the Book of Mormon little by little, and praying.  Ernie had to work again on Sunday, but Jairo came to all 3 hours and said he learned a lot!  

My water gun has become quite the ordeal now :)  Sister Tenney somehow snuck it out of our room, and as we were getting ready for bed one night, she storms in with it, I start screaming, she pins me in a corner, and soaked me!!! I tackled her in the living room, but she's so strong she just lifted me up! I brought it in the car one day, and we pulled up next to the Elders, got them to roll down their window, then sprayed :)  Sister Clark and I still have the best wars though!  This paragraph does not go along with the whole "dignified missionary" thing, but usually it's just in the apartment so it's ok!!!

And that my beloved ones, is my adventures for this week...who knows what this week will bring!  Meet the Mormons is in the visitors center now so we want to take investigators this week, and Octavio's baptism, transfer calls, and hopefully lots of lessons!

I hope your week is just as exciting :) Thank you for my 7 month package!!!! :)  I'm going to be nice and take my companion to Cafe Rio today....or tomorrow.  We are getting our hair cut today :)  

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

Hermana Short

ps I still have a baby face!  People still ask me "Are you 14 or 15?"  19!!  

Monday, January 5, 2015

Here I Go Again!

Wahoo family!!!  

It's a beautiful day, the sun is shining, and everything is clean!!!  Mom you're going to get a kick out of this. On Saturday we got a call that the mission housing inspectors were coming to inspect the cleanliness of our apartment on Monday.  Well, we had zero time that day to clean, Sunday is the Sabbath, and so that left this morning.  So last night I made job lists :)  From 6:20-7:30am the 4 of us were scrubbing walls, cleaning floors and counters, sanitizing light switches etc.  Classic Monday cleaning day!!  Our place was a disaster!  But when the inspectors came, we received the rating of "Celestial."  I never thought I'd be so grateful for  job lists!  Now you can do your "I told you so dance" :)

This is what I get for making funny faces in other
people's embarrassing! 

The real reason I'm so excited is because I just got this email from President Sweeney, "Dear Sister Short - as of today, you are staying with Sister Clark for her last transfer. I hope that you and she will be able to continue to bring strength to the Sisters you minister to. Having you maintain your own area and still focus on the Sisters is a large task, so no changes in your companion will be a good thing.  LOVE your exchange miracles! They happen to consecrated missionaries --- like you!"

Me and Sister Clark just finished screaming and jumping....ok so only she was screaming, but I'm equally excited!  That means I'll finish the next transfer with 9 months in my area, then I'll probably have to stay another transfer to get someone else familiar in this area....10 1/2 months total.  Seriously....could I be more blessed?  This branch is my home away from home and I was trying to imagine ever leaving them and it just seems unfathomable.  Plus we have sooo many new families to work with!  Of course I can forget last transfer, and how I thought I knew what was going to happen, so the Lord's will -will be done, but he told Sister Clark the same thing so we are counting on it!!

We have interviews with him this week so hopefully he will confirm his decision there :)  Next week is the last week of the transfer so his mind is probably pretty set!

President just loves me, he gave me permission to listen to those Spanish Primary songs you sent, and he told me all our branch missionaries could go to the sealing of one of our members!  It's the Guerrero's and they are getting married before transfers so that we all can be there!  They are even getting sealed in the Gilbert temple because they want us all to be able to go to that temple :)  They don't have a specific date yet, but we are all super excited.  

New Years this week was really fun!!  New Years Eve Sister Clark and I treated ourselves to Five Guys Burgers and fries which was delicious :)  Then we went to Mesa to wander the grounds for our last night.  Some of the hosts that came invited us to eat their pot-luck with them in the break-room which was also super great :)  Sister Clark was amazed at how much food I was putting down!  We talked to a few families, and then we talked to this one lady who seriously told us her life in 30 minutes.  All about her kids, their problems, her problems etc.  She was adorable, but man we couldn't get a word in!  

We got home that night and the other sisters had popped open a bottle of bubbly.  Juice that is :)  It was gross, but they even bought plastic wine glasses which was hilarious...agh I wish I had a picture.  I got in a water gun fight that night with Sister Clark, except it wasn't a fight, because I was the only one with a water gun :)  Once she was soaked, I turned on the other two sisters.  Sister Tenney, the sweet quiet adorable Polynesian, tackled me and poured water on me.  It was hilarious!!  Her playful side is coming out slowly :)  The other night I hid behind the door when they came home and scared her really bad.  To my dismay, she didn't scream, she just swung her arm and caught my ribs!  It would have hurt if I wasn't laughing so hard at the fear on her face :)  Then another day she and Sister Martinez were trying to get in the van, but I kept moving it slowly.  When I finally let them in, she attacked me.  I'm telling you, I can get anyone to play!!  I promise I'm not mean....I'm just my father's daughter :)

Showing love for my dad's favorite baseball team!!

New Years Day was extra fun.   We got up, skipped exercise, studied for two hours, then traveled to Paradise Valley for a tri-zone activity.  For five hours we just did whatever we wanted!  I got to play softball!  Well, wiffle ball, but still!  Then I attempted soccer, but I wasn't very good :)  After that we watched Joseph:King of Dreams, and the Prince of Egypt.  Some people just watched movies the entire time, others played in the gym the whole time, it was so fun just to relax.  We all ate pizza for lunch and then returned to proselyting by.  We ate with Sister Orozco that night, and we found out later that Draven has the chicken pox, and he gave me a kiss on the cheek that day, so hopefully I don't contract that thing!! 

So that's everything fun from this week :)  Now lets talk miracles :)  Concepcion and family!!!!!!!!
For the entire time I've been in this area, we have had a referral for Concepcion, but we could never find her at home.  Finally 2 weeks ago we found her and she told us to return last Monday.  We did, and I've never had a more powerful lesson.  Concepcion is in her 50's and lives with her adult son Douglas.  Her daughter Didi lives in Mexico with the grandson Sebastian, but they were here for the holidays.  Didi and Douglas were both baptized as youth, but have been inactive for more than a decade.  When we arrived at the house, we said a prayer and then by inspiration we began asking Didi about her baptism which was forever ago.  She told us how she came to know it was true, and that she felt really good.  I asked Concepcion if she attended that baptism to which she responded yes.  When asked how she felt about it she told us "scared."  She could see her two kids making changes, and she knew it was for the better, but she was scared they would become different people, and they did.  Better people.  She said "I just wasn't ready."  The Spirit was thick in the room as I asked her "And how do you feel now?"  Tears filled her eyes as she responded "Now, I'm ready."  With tears filling my own eyes I bore the strongest testimony I've ever felt as I told her "We are here as representatives of Jesus Christ to tell you that Heavenly Father has heard your prayers, and he loves you."  She was really emotional as she told us she has been waiting for this for a year and a half!  She had even tried going to our church building 3 times!  But it was a couple months ago when the building we go to now was under construction. :(  Sister Clark and I continued to bear testimony of how this gospel would change her life, and how she in fact was ready.  Her inactive daughter Didi was also there during the lesson and she too was crying.  We asked Didi to return to church, and she said she would.  Full of love for this family I'd barely met, we helped 5 year old Sebastian say the closing prayer.  Afterwards he asked us to sing a song about Jesus.  Concepcion cried again as we sang "I Am a Child of God."  When we got to the car we both just sat there in pure amazement.  God knows his children, he knows when they're ready, and he'll always bring them home.

Didi, Concepcion, Sebastian

We met with this cute family again on Friday night and Concepcion had read the entire Restoration pamphlet, and basically helped us teach the lesson to her daughter, who had forgotten most of it.  By the end of the lesson, Concepcion had accepted the baptism invitation, and committed to come to church with her daughter and grandson.  Sure enough, sacrament meeting rolls around, and all three of them are there in church clothes with grins on their faces :)  We took a picture afterwards and said goodbye to Didi and Sebastian who are going back to Mexico.  Didi told us "I'm going back to church when I get home."  I know we were meant to find that family this past week when Didi was home, so her mom could find the gospel, and Didi could return.  She promised to come back for her mom's baptism :)  God definitely has his own timing :) Concepcion's mother is also a member in Mexico and I know she's been praying for this for a long time.  I wish I could talk to her and tell her everything that has happened!

Did I tell you last week about the family that walked into church and just happens to live in our area?  Golden!  We met with them this week and we are very very excited.  The Grandmother is a member, who lives with her non-member husband, daughter and soon to be 5 grand-kids, 2 of which are baptismal age!  I guess that's what we get for praying for families to teach :)  For some reason they didn't show up to church this week, I think they went to Mesa, but they want to come to all 3 hours, and they want to be baptized!  Maria Jr is due in about a month though so hopefully she can come to church a couple times before it becomes too hard.  

Neryeda and Octavio's family is doing very well :)  I can almost feel love in that home!  Step by step :)  If they would just pray together like we ask every time!!  I was pretty dang proud of myself last night though :)  Every time we go over we ask 6 year old Ashley to say a prayer and every time she makes "Ana" or "Elsa" do it.  Aka Sister Clark and I.  (She's kind of obsessed.)  Last night she was sitting by me, Elsa, and I was trying to get her to say it.  While I was convincing her, bribing her etc., Sister Clark was answering the parent's questions.  I had to get this kid to pray though!  She would whisper to me that she was scared and didn't want anyone to hear her, and other cute kid things.  Finally, I talked to her about why Heavenly Father wants us to talk to him and I told her we would practice quietly so her family couldn't hear.  She agreed so we practiced twice in whispers and then she told me she was ready.  I told her parents we were ready and Nereyda looked at Ashley shocked and asked if she was serious.  Ashley nodded and began the prayer.  She would look at me for help, but I'd just nod my head.  It turned out to be the cutest, faith inspired prayer I've ever heard!  I'm a sucker for little kid Spanish anyway :)  The best was when she prayed for her dad because he's getting baptized :)  Kids are my favorite!  And I am a firm believer that the faith of a child can activate a whole family.  Ashley's the whole reason her parents come to church....she cries when they refuse to go.  Her baby sister Jimena was blessed yesterday and I feel like it was just a really neat day for that family.  Octavio's set on getting baptized in two weeks, and Nereyda wants to do her visiting teaching.  I love miracles!

We taught Xochitl this week and focused on having the faith to set a date for baptism.  She still says she doesn't have an answer and therefore isn't ready to make that step, but she did come to church despite her 4 hours of sleep the night before.  Our goal is to start pointing her answers out to her.  Like when she said she flipped open the Book of Mormon to Moroni 8 which is mostly about baptism.  "Hermana that's a sign!"  She didn't see it :)  Member present lessons....that's what we really need.

Last night we went to Ernie and Jairo's house to read 3 Nephi 11 with them.  Again it was obvious that Jairo is more serious about this than Ernie, but at least they both listen and ask questions!  The funniest part is that we always have to teach them outside and they always complain about it being cold.  So this week we pull up and they have a campfire built in the front yard.  Reminded me of girls camp, reading the scriptures by the fire.  Seriously...those two!  They get really excited about sports night with the members too.  They show up on Fridays with or without us, and even bought their own ball pump this week.  More and more members are getting to know therm which is great :)  We confirmed their date for yesterday, Jairo was a lot more firm than Ernie.  

This week was my first Mission Leadership Council (MLC).  It's basically a 6 hour meeting with 2 ten minute breaks.  If it wasn't for the fajitas they made us afterwards I might have cried!  It was neat to see how much trust President puts in the leaders to make decisions.  We all decided to cut out Facebook permission because there were too many problems and not enough need for it since we don't have ipads, or even a hint of them.  Sister Clark, our Zone Leaders, and I were also very pleased to see that our zone is ahead of all the other zones in many categories such as street contacts, member present lessons, progressing investigators, and those with dates, etc.  That's really good because a few months ago we were trailing everyone :)  We also had a district leadership council this week with the leaders in our zone, so 6 of us. There I got to hear about all the naughty things Elders do, and sometimes I just tried not to laugh and act disappointed. I thought Elders were perfect til I went on a mission....they're still teenage boys....attempting to grow up :)  

I can't believe all of the ward changes....I try not to think about it because it's so sad actually.  It's like all those missionaries whose parents move while they're gone and they come home to a strange ward they've never seen.  Except, you didn't even move!! That is a drastic change!!  Dad, I'll be praying for you!!  And the rest of the family, since you're all probably super stressed out :)  Just pretend it's transfers....I wouldn't know what moving areas feels like (haha), but I know what getting used to new people feels like!  Give everyone a'll be surprised at who becomes your closest friends :)  

I hope you all have a wonderful week, I know Heavenly Father never gives us anything we can't handle.  However, he does push us to the limits sometimes :)  

I love you, I Love You, I LOVE YOU

Hermana Short