Monday, April 25, 2016

Genius 10-Year-Olds, OYMs, Birthdays, and 6 Months Already?

Springtime in the Northwest

Okay, it literally feels like I just barely hit my four month mark, and now all of the sudden I'm a third done with my mission?! Wow! It's actually pretty exciting :) And sad at the same time. I'm starting to understand the whole wanting to be in denial about how short of a time you have left in the mission thing. I'm starting to really, really love being a missionary, and really want each day to last as long as possible!

This week was AWESOME. First of all, thank you so much to everyone who has been writing me for my birthday! It seriously means so much! It's so fun when I open my P.O. box to a bunch of letters. Thank you specifically to Jaina, Sis. Rogers, Noemi, Gma and Gpa, Candi, Jessy, and Katie! I also got a package from my mom this week, and am expecting one from my dad today! 

 Birthday Package!!!

My companion made me birthday breakfast!

So we started off the week with a challenge from the Hood River Elders to try to get 50 OYMs (open your mouth and talk to someone new) the way you do that is either talking to someone on the street, at the store, knocking on their door, etc. It counts as an OYM if you introduce yourself, get their name, and tell them you are a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints. In my past areas it has been very, very hard to get even 20 in a week, just because it has been cold and winter, and nobody was out! And in Royal all the houses were really spread out, so we spent a lot of time driving. So we worked really, really, really hard this week at talking to literally every single person we could possibly see, and got 40!! We were so close! This week we are going to shoot for 50 again. I think we can do it! 

We met so many cool new people this week, including a girl named Kira. She actually walked up to us! (that never happens) and asked, "Hey are you guys church ladies?" and we were like, "Well, yes, we are missionaries.... etc., etc." Then she was like "I have never grown up with any religion or anything, but I believe in God, and I have been searching for the truth for a long time. I saw you ladies and your name tags and just had a huge urge like I NEED to talk to you." It was INCREDIBLE. We are teaching her tonight, and I am so excited! We also got a new list from the Executive Secretary of the ward, of part-member families and found an awesome new family to teach. The Merrills' mom is a member, but none of the 4 kids or husband have ever been baptized. We are also teaching them today, and I'm excited to see how they go! 

Park where Kira found us

Tuesday was my birthday! Woo hoo! I already talked about that a little, but something also fun that we got to do was do some service at a thrift store, and we got some free clothes! And then for our member dinner that night, the Kings (AWESOME COUPLE) took us out for dinner at this delicious local pizza and sandwich shop. We had these amazing sandwiches (I love, love, love sandwiches) and tons of extra pickles! Unfortunately no one makes fried pickles here, which is a birthday tradition. So that was sad, but I got some Tillamook ice cream. I guess that makes up for it. :) 

Wednesday we had a really good day filled with tons of companionship bonding. I finally got to meet Erin, an eternigator (investigator for eternity) that has been being taught in this area by missionaries for nine years! My last eternigator, Ana, just got baptized last Saturday, so I'm excited to crack down on this one too! It's funny because everyone's so afraid of offending them or hurting their feelings or something, and I'm just like, what have you got to lose?! They're not progressing anyway! I believe in being bold with people, it’s the only way things get done! There's an awesome quote that I heard from a missionary who is super inspiring to me: "The difference between being bold and being overbearing is, overbearance is boldness without love." How true is that?! It's like the difference between tough love, and just being mean. So anyway, I'm excited to start working with Erin.

 Companionship bonding!

We also got to meet the most interesting little kid, James. He is only ten but is SO smart! We met his mom a couple days ago and shared our message with her, and she asked if we could come over and share it with her son, too because he would be very interested. When she said he was ten we were like, hmm that's kind of weird, but okay. Then we got there and met him and holy cow! His vocabulary was insane. We asked him what he would like to get out of our meetings and he said, "I would like to have enlightenment and knowledge about my purpose in life" We were like ............. wow." So anyway, I'm very excited for him, too.

Thursday we stopped by the church for a meeting with our bishop for a while to talk about the work in the area and saw a bunch of the youth going in and out of the gym with a bunch of random supplies and ladders and lights and stuff. So we got curious and followed them in there and found them decorating the gym for a stake dance like Harry Potter themed!! IT was so cool! It looked just like the great hall in Hogwarts. Thursday night we had an awesome member dinner with the Rogers, a cute older couple who actually went to Utah State! My comp, Hna. Marble, is from Logan and wants to go to USU after she gets back, so it was really fun to be around a bunch of Aggies! (We even sang “The Scotsman” together. It was so fun!)

Harry Potter dance--You walk through
the brick wall at platform 9 3/4--get it?

Friday night we had so much fun because we had a ward barbecue. At first when they said barbecue I was like, "Yeah right, it's probably just hamburgers and hot dogs on a grill... it's a grill-out." But then to my pleasant surprise it was legitimately a barbecue! A brother in the ward brought his Traeger and made pulled pork! It was so, so, so delicious and refreshing! I think he was using maple pellets, or maybe cedar. It was also really fun because our investigator Tyler (who is on-date for baptism, btw!) brought his non-member parents, and a non-member friend, Aaron! It turns out that Aaron ended up getting his hands on a Book of Mormon a few years ago and actually read it and has been having some questions for a while. But he never knew how to get a hold of the missionaries. SO anyway, that was a miracle.

Legitimate barbecue!

 Fun at the ward barbecue

I ate cactus!

Friday we had a lesson with an almost eternigator (it's been two years), named Dory. Her issue is that she has a ton of questions about deep, deep, deep doctrine that we can't answer! I don't know if anyone can answer it but God himself! She is just studying literally everything she can get her hands on. We’re not sure where to go moving forward with her, so if you could pray about that it would be great! We could use some inspiration. We also accidentally knocked into a less-active named Juan. It turns out he hasn't been to church for 20 years, but he never stopped believing. Now he has a heart disease and can't go out. It was so sad! He told us his conversion story, and I was almost crying by the end of it. I am so glad we found him and can start helping him now! 

Saturday we got to go over for lunch to a less-active’s home and have Mole Verde! I had eaten mole rojo a lot before, it's a really common dish, but never verde! It was really good. I'm not a huge fan of mole, but now I really like it. I also ate cactus! It was surprisingly not that bad. It just tasted like a not-ripe-yet cucumber. I also ate Aloe.... very strange. 

Hermana Marble eating Mole Verde

Saturday in the day we drove up to Carson to contact a referral. Carson is a little town on the very edge of our area, and it is SO gorgeous up there! I have tons of pictures. Something kind of funny is that on the way up there, we were winding through tons of mountains, and I got soooo carsick. I was about to throw up... so we stopped at a gas station to grab some Dramamine for the drive back (it's about 45 minutes). I took a Dramamine but totally forgot that they make you really drowsy! So ha ha, when we got back that evening, I was totally falling asleep during the member dinner! I was so drowsy the rest of the day.

 The drive to Carson

My favorite quote from church yesterday: "Who you are is good enough, don't be so hard on yourself! Keep going, keep trying, keep progressing." 

My favorite thing I learned this week: "Restauracion= Restoration AND restitution, in Spanish. How perfect is that?!

Welcome to Washington! 

Welcome to Oregon!

 Her last name is Marble! Hee hee!

 These cute vans are everywhere

I LOVE this street sign!

 Strange sign we saw

Everything about this town is so cute and woodsy.
Even the post office looks like a cabin!

Bridge over the Columbia River

 Beautiful scenery around White Salmon

Monday, April 18, 2016

I'm Still 20! Just Barely!

Hello from Oregon!! So technically I live in Washington still, a town called White Salmon. But my area is in both Washington and Oregon, and the church where I am currently sitting in, emailing is in Oregon. So hello from Oregon!

Hello, The Dalles!

GAH! Our Area! Is this real life?!

 On the way to our house

The view from our front yard. (You're jealous, I know!)

My area is seriously SO GORGEOUS. I can't get over it! I thought Royal was pretty, it was like an armpit compared to this place!! This week has been so seriously awesome, too. My new companion, Hna. Marble is the best! She is really nice and really funny. We already have way too much fun talking like Miranda all the time (shout out to Hannie) She looks like Camryn Lovett and sounds just like Candi Brundage! It's kind of funny when she talks in the other room because it sounds like there's a Brundage in there! 

Hermanas Knight and Marble

My adorable companion!

So almost everyone in our ward is old retired couples. Or people with young families. There's not a lot in between. Also our ward covers a HUGE area, so a lot of people are less-active, simply because they don't have the desire/means to drive an hour to get to church. It's kind of sad. We actually used to have two smaller branches here, but the stake decided to just combine them into a ward. But now no one can come, so I’m not sure how long that will last. The area is mostly English, which is seriously weird to adjust to! We only have about 5 Spanish members in our entire area and the other sisters’ area, so it's not even enough to have a group, let alone a branch. It's kind of hard, because there are a lot of Hispanics here, and we have a few Hispanic investigators, but we invite them to church and it's like, yeah... so we want you to come, but it's in English... but we can translate for you! And they're like Whaaaat? I've been praying that maybe we could get a couple of Spanish families to move in here that are already members that could bolster it enough to have a separate Spanish group, then the investigators and less actives would have a reason to go , and someone to greet them when they get here. 

There is actually a lot of drama that has gone down in this area in the last year. I'm starting to feel like that's one of the reasons Heavenly Father needs me here right now, to kind of clear out all the junk and re-focus this area on what is important. A lot of the past missionaries have been really homey-ish with some of the investigators, so that's something that's probably going to be a little hard to change, but I know we can do it. Hna. M and I are just so ready to hit it hard this week and light this place on fire! (figuratively of course--I guess that's a little insensitive considering last summer...) But seriously I'm so ready to just gut this place! We took a little extra time out during our weekly planning on Friday to clean out the area book. It was so unorganized and messy! (There used to be elders here...) We organized everything and made an awesome plan of how to visit everyone this week. We are going to be so busy, but I am so excited! 

 Doing service--pruning shrubs for an elderly lady

Something else cool and random is that we get to drive a jeep in our area, since we are up in the mountains and it is sometimes a pretty rough terrain, especially in the winter. It's really fun having a jeep. His name is Juan Carlos. I didn't name him.

Oh I almost forgot something weird! Yesterday I met the twin sister of a member in Royal!! I saw her in church and was so confused, I was like "I know her from somewhere, but I can't figure out where!" It was driving me crazy for like 2 hours, and then I realized who it was--a sister from Royal. So then I walked closer to the lady to see if it was actually her, and I realized that it looked way similar to her but not exactly the same. Then it dawned on me that once when we were having dinner at their house, she told us she had a twin sister that lives in The Dalles! So anyway, that was weird and kind of cool! I didn't have a chance to talk to her or introduce myself or anything, but hopefully soon. We also have a gospel doctrine teacher who is from NYC, his accent is really fun to listen to. It’s also interesting going to church in English again. I just felt like "this is too easy to understand everyone!" ha ha! But we have to translate things from English to Spanish a lot, so that's hard and challenging, and a great Spanish practice!

 Wild Turkeys!

These cute VW vans are everywhere--
usually with wind-surfing supplies strapped to the top!!

We had a funny dinner experience on Friday and Saturday. There is a family in the ward, the Lensons, and their mom is from Venezuela, and the husband served in Argentina on his mission so the whole family speaks Spanish and English. They are one of our top go-to fellowshippers for Spanish investigators, so we planned this appointment for an investigator, Anastine, to have dinner with us and the Lensons. But then the investigator just made  a bunch of food and gave it to us to take to their house, but wouldn't come with us... it was really awkward! We kept asking him why he wouldn't come, but he just kept saying "Nope! Nope!" He wouldn't say why... so we just took the food and went. He said, "I hope you love the food!" and he seemed really happy to give it to us, but just for some reason wouldn't come. So... that lesson and fellowshipping opportunity was a flop! I guess he didn't get the point...

It's my birthday tomorrow! Woo hoo! And guess what my favorite present is:
ANA GOT BAPTIZED YESTERDAY!!!!!! My first baptism!! And I couldn't go :( I was so sad about that, because I really wanted to go and also visit Royal! But I'm glad that at least Hermana Luevano could go! She is still serving in Moses Lake, so she easily went. I asked for her to save me a program too, so that will be good :) 
Hopefully I can see some pictures as well :) 

Congratulations, Ana!
(Photo posted to Washington Yakima Mission FB Page)

Well I think that is it for this week. I love you all! My last email as a 20 year old missionary.

Some last pictures from Yakima:

Last zone pictures with these goofballs.
It's been fun, Yak Valley Spanish Zone!

 Goodbye to la familia Martinez-Farias

Goodbye to the Gomez Family! Les quiero!