Monday, October 31, 2016

Week 54--I'm an Elephant?!

Hannah Rd!

This week we've been doing a lot of hard core work outs in the morning, which I totally love, but various parts of my body have been SUPER sore throughout the week. Monday we did an arm work out, Wednesday an abs one, and Friday a leg one. My calves STILL are not very happy with me. I love it but I hate it.

Monday was a pretty good, chilled out Preparation Day. We ended up making some cookies and thank you notes for a bunch of members who have been blessing and helping us out a ton lately. Someone asked me this week what is the key to member-missionary cooperation in this work and honestly, what it all comes down to is loving them, being happy, caring about what they care about, and showing them how important to you they are. It's like that with any kind of relationship. Just be their friend!

Tuesday was a busy day! We went to Pres. and Sis. Green’s (Stake President) house in the early afternoon to get all of our absentee voter stuff taken care of, and then we met Brian, a recently returned missionary from the 3rd ward, out at a trailer park in Thorpe (town in our area) and he met with some people with us. He was awesome! He served in Mexico, so his Spanish was casi perfecto, and by the end of the 3 HOURS he spent helping us out, we ended up with 2 1/2 new investigators! (I say 1/2 because I'm not positive about Jose Luis' interest level.)

Carina is an older widow, who used to be taught by the missionaries here about 4 months ago, but then she had to leave and stay in Mexico for about 3 months. So we came back and she's still been reading in the Book of Mormon the other Hermanas gave her! She's had a rough life, she was married at 13 to a 22-year-old, but they grew to love each other and actually had 13 kids! But unfortunately 5 of the kids died, and also her husband died when he was only 40 from cancer. She's been alone for a long time and has had to support her 8 remaining kids on her own, being a seamstress. She is truly amazing.

Amelia was a referral from the Calhoun's, and she came to the Halloween party this Saturday! Woo hoo! That evening we went to the Reina’s for a lesson and found out that Hermana Reina was having a major surgery this Thursday! She'll be out for about 6 weeks in recovery, so definitely keep her in your prayers. She was talking to us a lot about how she feels stressed about not being a good enough wife, mother, member, etc. We shared with her some awesome insights from "The Perfect Lie," a blog post on from last week. We shared with her the example of the Loaves and Fishes feeding the 5000 and the Water being turned into wine at the wedding, and how Jesus didn't rebuke or condone them, or ask who planned so poorly, he just took what they had to give and made it enough. AH, I love it. Perfectionism is a big no-no! He commands us to be perfect even as He is perfect, but, He never said we have to do it alone. We NEED His grace, or whatever we do will never be enough.

Wednesday we took Fernando with us to meet Hermana Liman, an elderly Mexican sister who just moved in the ward boundaries a month ago. The Relief Society president asked us to go and meet her, because she only speaks Spanish, to find out if she is friendly or hostile towards the Church, and if she wants Visiting Teachers or not.  It turns out she's super nice and the only reason she doesn't go to church is because she has super bad health and is bed-ridden. She has a testimony of steel and knows the scriptures super well! We quoted a scripture to her without telling her a reference or story behind it or anything, and she was like "I love Ammon, he just always says things so perfectly."


Thursday we did lots of service. After an AWESOME DISTRICT COUNCIL ABOUT FAMILY HISTORY WHICH I LOVE, we went to Debby's house and raked leaves and pruned her rose bushes (ouch). That night we had a lesson with Fernando and Sister Hansen. At first, Sister Hansen was super tired and a little grumpy because she'd had a hard day, but by the end of the lesson, she was super happy and peaceful. It was so cool to see, once again the power of Christlike character, turning outward and teaching her friend, when it would have been so much easier to turn inward and wallow in her own rough day.

After that we went to the free clinic to help translate for Hispanics that come in. It was a little overwhelming at first with all of those medical terms (gotta study that soon!) but it actually went really well. Towards the end of the night I decide do have the doctor there take a look at my ear and see what she thinks, because the other doctor helped it to mostly not whoosh, but it's still doing it sometimes. So she grabbed that ear binoculars thingy, and said "Wow! You have had a lot of ear infections and tubes, haven't' you!" "Yes, ma’am!" and then she turned to the medical student who was shadowing her and said "take a look at this! Her ear is really flat and grey' and then, without even thinking I was like "I'm an elephant?!" Hahahaha, it was so funny.

Friday we had lunch at the bishop's company as usual, and it was so funny because seriously like 4-5 of his workers came up to us and asked us if we are nuns! NO WE ARE NOT NUNS!

Saturday we helped set up for the "Fall Harvest Celebration" aka Halloween party. It was so fun! Sister Walter is amazing and so creative! In between helping and dinner, we FINALLY met Gerardo. He's a recent convert who was baptized in February, and was super into church and inviting his friends for a while but then randomly stopped coming for the last 2 months. We talked to him about how important it is to come, especially to take the sacrament, and he was like, "Oh yes, I definitely have a testimony of that, and I read in the scriptures every day. I pray a lot." Then he started asking about his friends in the Spanish group and when he found out that most of them are not coming to church he was like, "WOW. That is so bad! They really need to go to church! I'm going to call them. They need to repent." And we were like, "Ummmmm.... you don't go to church either." It was weird. Then we went to dinner with the Spackmans. It was awesome, because Brother S went on his mission in South America and is fluent in Spanish. He gave us a Spanish lesson, and it helped a lot! It's hard to learn when you don't use it constantly.

The Halloween party was awesome! Hermana Shewell and I switched name tags for our costumes (hee hee!) and we actually got to run one of the games for a little while. Then we wandered around and met a bunch of people. There were a ton of non-members there! It was an awesome success, and super fun!

 Halloween Party!

 Sunday we did a language moment in 3rd Ward. It was fun to get to meet more of them, and then like 30 mins before 1st Ward’s Sacrament Meeting started the bishop asked me to give a talk!! Usually we are given like 2 weeks in advance, but someone had backed out at the last minute, and missionaries are good back up plans! Fortunately, I already had a few talks written on random topics I've learned about in my mission, so I was able to use one! It went really well and was another great opportunity to introduce myself to more members of the ward. It was kind of embarrassing though, because during the opening song, one of our less-active members that we have been working super, super, super hard to get to come to church walked in and I started to cry! Right there in front of everybody! The Spirit was so strong all day at church yesterday.

To close out, here’s a cool insight from Relief Society yesterday. Obedience is like an hourglass, at first it seems like you are being restrained, and squeezed into something you don't want to do, but once you do it, the blessings pour out so abundantly! You become something even greater than you ever imagined on your own.

I love and miss you all.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Week 53--1 Ano Como Misionera!

Friday officially marked the completion of my first year as a missionary! Wow. I would say it flew by, but this week I actually had a lot of experiences with people from the past in my mission that made me realize how actually long it's been and how much I have learned and grown. 

Interviews! Hermana Shewell, Me, Sister Carroll, Sister Lewis (in the back), 
Sister Grigg, Sister Goodrich, Sister Atkinson

Not much to report about the beginning of the week, so I'll just skip to the good stuff. I don't have a ton of time to write today, there's been a lot more personal emailing than usual! Life is crazy. 

We got to finally meet/visit with the Relief Society president on Thursday after our district Council, and she ended up giving us 7 referrals! All Spanish! Wow! It was so cool. Counting those and the others we got this week (two last night that we are SUPER excited about) we ended our week last night with 11 referrals to contact this week! I love working with the members, it's the only way to actually get stuff done, in my opinion!

We also went to the doctor on Thursday, well, kind of. One of the members in the 3rd ward is a doctor, and he actually said we can come to his house and he will examine us there for free when we need it. SO nice! I've been having this whooshing sound in my right ear for about 10 months now (since I was in Royal) and it is driving me crazy! It's like being able to hear my heart beat in my ear! I have been talking with the mission nurse for a while about it and after trying all the things she could think of to fix it, I finally went to see the doctor. He said there are these little bones in our skulls by our temples, our jaws, and on the back of our neck that are supposed to sort of move, or wiggle, etc. and apparently the ones on the right side of my skull are not, so it's causing a lot of pressure to build up. He said it happens because of stress, which makes a lot of sense. He did "cranial manipulation" on me and the whooshing actually went away for like 2 days, but now it's back :( I'll have to go back and see what we can do. 

Friday we had interviews with President and Sister Lewis! It was so nice to have some quality time with each one of them. I have so much going on right now and had a lot to talk about! Usually interviews only last about 20ish minutes, but mine were like an hour this time! It's so nice to have them to fall back on and be able to depend on. 

First I was with Sister Lewis and with Thanksgiving coming up, she asked about the top 3 things I am grateful for. It was pretty hard to decide! 

1- Animals because they show us what unconditional love is.

2- Being a big sister, because it helps me understand just a little bit of how our heavenly father feels about each of us. Every time I have the temptation to not like someone or judge them, I try to look at them as if they were one of my little sisters,and I am filled with love for that person. If that can happen just by being their sister, how much more powerful must the love be of both earthly parents, and our perfect parent in Heaven?

3- I'm grateful for Christ's example to me of turning outward, especially in the middle of terrible trials. It helps me to choose happiness.

Something REALLY cool happened right after interviews, too! I came out from talking with President Lewis, and there was a guy in the other room chatting with Hermana Shewell, Sister Lewis, and the elders (they were next after us,) and he had a Royal City High School sweatshirt on! Usually I use code names for almost everyone in these emails/blogs, but for this one I can't. I saw his sweatshirt and just automatically grinned ear to ear " Are you from Royal?!" he said yes. I told him I was "born" there (on my mission, ha ha) and he said his name is Tyson Allred. His sister is Andrea Fielding, who is the wife of Spencer Fielding, the president of the Spanish branch there in Royal. (are you still following? it gets better!) so then I was like, "Hey that's so cool! I actually have known Spencer's brother, Jeremy Fielding and his family for most of my life, they are in my home ward!" AND THEN he was like, "Oh so you're from Rockwall?" and I said, "Yeah, you actually know Rockwall?" (usually I have to just say Dallas) and he was like, "Yeah I served my mission there!!" NO WAY. THAT IS SO COOL. WE TOTALLY TRADED PLACES.  WOW. Ha ha, it was so cool! BUT WAIT there's more! He was like "We have a present for you!" So idk if you remember, but Katie Christensen (one of my fave people in the whole world)'s parents live next door to the Lewis's in Orem, so her and Sis. Lewis are friends. SO SHE SENT A PRESENT FOR ME WITH SISTER LEWIS. It was so sweet and thoughtful! She sent me a Royal High sweatshirt just like the one Tyson was wearing. it's the new spirit wear for this school year! and she sent a sweet note as well. It was sweet and made me feel so loved! My people in Royal still remember me! <3 <3 <3 
Me and Tyson Allred! 

My sweatshirt from Katie!
Thanks Katie!

Then on Saturday we went to a conferencia cultural Hispanica in Selah. It was SO FUN. I got to see HERMANA LUEVANO (I love her so so so so so soooooo much) and also, nearly all the members of the Englewood spanish branch where I served in Yakima! They all remembered me, too! It was so amazing. Hna .luevano and i got to catch up a bit after she PERFORMED A DANCE, adn I got to see Antonia and Jaime, and Mama Brenda! When she saw me she said "Oh! MIJA! LE EXTRANO!" and then she started to cry a little. It was so sweet. People from yakima loving and remembering me, as well as people from Royal sending me presents and being excited when they saw me at the temple last week has just been so reassuring and comforting this week. Sometimes it feels like a mission is just constantly saying goodbye to people. Then you wonder and worry if they'll actually remember you and if you've left an impression on their heart. It made me realize I actually did! And that these goodbyes are all just temporary and that I'm really just expanding my family <3

 Hna. Luevano and Hna. Pons before their performance!

 Some silly dancers, including the Branch President

Me and Mama Brenda. So cute!

Me and Antonia. She is literally SO pretty!

Yesterday was the primary program at church (I got choked up, those kids are so so so cute) and there was this super cute family that got up and did a special musical number "Jesus once was a little child" the mom was at the piano, and the dad and son were doing a violin duet. It was so cute and brought the spirit so strongly. #familygoals. THen our lesson in RS was really awesome! It was all based on Elder Oaks' conference talk a few weeks ago about sharing the gospel. The spirit was so strong and it was one of the main things that helped us to recieve so many referrals just yesterday! Then we had dinner with the Hana's and they gave me some mini scriptures, like the one's I've been wanting! (less weight to carry around) it was so nice of them! 

My favorite song this week is "More Holiness Give Me" from the CD "nearer: a new collection of Hymns" the singer's name is Debra I can't remember her last name, but It's really good! 

I love and miss you all! 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Week 52--The Busiest Week Ever

Monday was not a usual P-day. We just emailed for an hour then had a regular proselyting day. Some highlights of the day: FHE with the Dillons. they have a seriously cute little girl named Tanya. She's 2. We also got to visit the Reinas again. They were really busy so we planned on coming back the next day to help her.

Tuesday was a day of service! In the morning we did a Days For Girls service project. It was really cool! Sister Lewis (mission president's wife) is super involved with that organization so we've heard a lot about it. It was so awesome to finally get to see it in action and be a part of it!

Days for Girls! 

After that we went to the Reinas and helped Hermana Reina make 150 tamales! It was really fun, and now I finally know how to make them! We also listened to some beautiful Spanish Christian music (my fave genre). 

Tamales with the Reinas 

Then we did service cleaning for a few elderly people in the community. We've been working with a local non-profit organization that helps people in need (especially old people) with their cleaning, yard work, moving, etc. Its an awesome way to meet people and always have service opportunities available. 

Then we went to some member's house and made "Nephi's boat" with their two kids, who are 5 and 6. It was so cute! We made it out of straws and tape. We talked to them about faith and how Nephi had to have a lot of faith throughout his life. They loved it! It was Hermana Shewell's idea. SMART. 

Then we had dinner with the Wardens. They are so much like my family--all daughters and the personalities match up! Pretty fun. 

Then we went to the Family History Center with an investigator, Katrina, and Fernando, the recent convert. It was really fun and they got super excited to find some more names, but then we had a kind of scary experience. So we didn't know that Kat didn't have a car so we all said goodbye and got in our cars and started driving away when we noticed she was walking! It was cold and rainy and super dark outside plus there's been a lot of those clown guys on campus lately, so we were like that's not okay! But we have a rule that we can't drive anyone in our mission cars! MAN! so we were trying to call some members to come pick her up and drive her home,and then these freaky guys in those white hockey masks that serial killers wear drove by in this big white truck and they were screaming some very not okay things at us. Then the drove back by, and by again, and again! Like four times! We were getting freaked out and the members wouldn't answer the phones! So we were like "well the rule is that we can't drive you anywhere, but there's no rule that says you can't sit in the car with the doors locked!! Fortunately the Belindez were able to come and save the day! We made them some cookies. 

Wednesday we had District Council in the morning, my first since being here in Ellensburg. It was pretty good! Then we went to lunch at this local taco truck stand and had the yummiest chorizo and carnitas tacos ever! Then we went to Sis. Hansen's house to help her pack because they are moving to Yakima soon. After that we had an AMAZING lesson with our investigator, Lorena. A member, Sister Kennedy, came and she was so awesome! She's only been a member of the church for about three years, so she's really got a fire burning for missionary work. 

After our lesson we had dinner with the Olsens Their house is SO CUTE. Here are some pictures :) 

Thursday we went to the TEMPLE!! woo hoo! That's why our P-day was weird this week. It was so awesome. Then we got to go to Costa Vida!! Woo hoo! The rest of our day was pretty much running around like a headless chicken trying to get our usual 6-hour P-day stuff to fit into 2 hours! 

 Temple Trip!

Costa Vida! 

After we got done with all of that we went to meet Bishop Weaver (3rd ward) and his family. We told them the story of "Feeding Consuela" (you should totally look it up) and they loved it! WE love members! 

Friday was just a weird day with basically nothing to report. 

SATURDAY WAS AWESOME BECAUSE WE GOT TO GO TO WHITE SALMON AND WATCH MAX GET BAPTIZED!!! We were so grateful to the Hansens for driving us to Yakima, and then Elder and Sister call from the mission office for taking us to White Salmon! It we so fun to see Hermana Hullheart again and finally see Max overcome his hurdles and take this step! He was so happy! I also got some LETTERS, which never happens. Thank you Coopers and Grandma and Grandpa! It made my day even better! 

Beautiful White Salmon...I've missed you!

 Max's baptism

Sunday was a great day. There was actually a pretty obvious not purposeful theme- charity. We read the parable of the Good Samaritan in both hours of Sunday school and Relief Society! The Spirit was really strong. I already love this ward so much. :) Then last night we went to dinner at the Gaylord's house they have some seriously cute kids! And some really powerful testimonies. It was awesome. Then we met a Less-active member named Sariah, and she has a MANDOLIN. Good news, I can still play, even after not touching one for over a year! It took me a minute to remember and warm up to it, but then we were able to sing some hymns together. IT was a beautiful visit. :) 

P-day has been great so far today. I gutted my closet and room and we deep cleaned the apartment. It feels so amazing to be clean and organized! I'm beginning to actually love change. 

And I love my mission!