Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Guided By the Spirit and Faith is Like Mangoes

This week, I had some experiences that really strengthened my testimony that we are guided by the Spirit. Saturday morning, all of our citas fell through, so Hermana Larsen and I were walking, we had the thought that we should go and visit a house that has two investigators in it, a mother and her daughter. Normally they aren't home during the week, but we decided to just go and see. It turns out, the mother was home. At first she seemed reluctant to let us in, but she told us we could share something for ten minutes. We went in and she started to cry and told us about how she is having difficulties with one of her daughters and is really worried for her family. We were able to share with her about how God loves her and her family, and all she needs to do is pray for guidance and strength to be able to overcome her challenges and soften the heart of her daughter. THe spirit was super strong, and I know that she felt it touch her heart. Now when we come to visit her and her family, she is happy to see us and lets us in right away.

These are the Elders we are switching areas with. Here we are working
together on the balloon animals for Paulo's birthday party.

Last Sunday, we were running a little late for an appointment with a family. So when we got to their house, nobody was home. Just as we were about to leave, one of the daughters in the family showed up, but she didn't have time for a lesson. We were talking with her for a few minutes, when one of the counselors in the Young Women and two young women came up. They were out visiting young women in the ward who are less active (because there are many), and we were able to introduce them to our investigator, Katrina, who had come to Church that day. We were also able to take them to the house of a less active family that has two daughters in Young Women's that they didn't know about. It was meant to be that we were in the right place at the right time in order to show them where some young women lived in the area. The Holy Ghost is always guiding us to where we need to be, we just have to listen and have the confidence that He will use us to further the Lord's work.

Later that same day, we went and had a Noche de Hogar with the same less active family. The Mom and three of her seven children are members. The Dad and the other little kids aren't members, and so we'd been trying to meet him and help them come back to church and baptize one of their kids who is 9-years-old. Last night we were finally able to have a lesson and the Dad was there! He told us about how the Elders had come to his house two years ago and helped him and his wife get married. He bore his testimony about marriage and how it has blessed his family immensely. He told us that he just about got baptized with the Elders, but then they were transferred and he never did. Since the Elders will have our area after this week, hopefully they can work with him and help him get baptized this time around!

Anyways, we had a Noche de Hogar with this family, and since they have lots of little kids, we shared a short lesson. We told them about faith and how it is like a seed that we can help grow. The kids starting asking about what kind of fruit it would be. It just so happened that earlier that day, we had been given mangos by a less acitve member and we still had them in our pockets. We pulled them out and the kids thought it was an awesome surprise! It was perfect for the lesson, and now the kids will always remember how faith is like mangos!

Missionary Craziness on the Bus (see me in the back?)
So next Saturday, we have cambios (transfers), and our Mission President already told us that he will change our area so that now the Elders will have our area and we will have their area. It is probably a lot safer that way. The Elders found a house in our area, but so far we haven't found anything in their area because we haven't been able to go up to the Elder's area to look. The ward is helping us, though, and we might be able to live in a small house! That would be awesome! I really hope we can have an oven so that I can make cupcakes! Anyways, we'll see how this next week goes. Have a happy halloween chilling and watching movies! Eat lots of candy for me!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hermamientos, President's Interview, and My Crazy, Blond Hair Helps Again

This week, I learned how important it is to have members in the lessons. When we have a member present, especially one that can be a hermamiento, we can see a difference in how the investigators and menos activos respond to the compromisos. They are much more likely to complete their compromisos. When a member testifies of how a doctrine or commandment has blessed their life, or even just bear their testimony of Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon, there is a lot of power and the spirit is so strong. Having a member in lessons is much more powerful.

I also learned that we really don't know who will be baptized after we first meet them. I had the opportunity to go back to El Olivar with Hermana Solis for exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders. Of the people that I met while I was there, four of them had been baptized, one of which I helped find when I was there a few months ago. Those people that we had dropped or had thought wouldn't progess had made the changes necessary in their lives to be baptized, and it was really amazing for me to see the difference it had made in their lives. Sometimes we really won't know who will change their lives to live in accordance with the gospel, so we have to work hard with every single one of our investigators.

Last Monday, we had a pretty crazy day. We were enjoying our normal Preparation day activites, playing games with the zone, eating food, and going shopping. We got back to our apartment at about 5:00, and saw that we had missed two calls from Pres. Archibald and one from Hermana Archibald! We called back and he asked us to come in for an interview in an hour. We quickly changed and hopped on a bus to get to Metro.

We had a really good, long interview with Pres. Archibald. He has been calling in everyone who hasn't had a baptism since he arrived in the field. Hermana Larsen and I are both on his list, and so he went over our area with us, and we talked about some of the things we can change and improve on in order to help our area progress. He gave us some really great advice and showed us some of the resources that we didn't know we had to help us find part member families. These next couple of weeks, he's going to be talking with the leaders in our stake and ward, and making changes in the boundaries of our area. It will be super exciting to see some of the changes that will be made, and we are going to be focusing even more on part member families in order to help us find people to teach.

I've decided that on Halloween I will eat candy to celebrate! Oh, I do miss all the yummy fall soups, desserts, and carving pumpkins, but I'll get to see how they celebrate here. Peruvian food is really good, but I would kill for some homemade cheese and broccoli soup with pumpkin pie for dessert! On the other hand, it's getting hot here and soup doesn't really sound good all the time, so I guess I can wait.

One thing about it warming up and the sun coming out is that I am definitely getting tanner and my hair lighter. People here are crazy about my blond hair. They really like to akwardly stare when I walk by, so that's kind of fun. One good thing did come from my hair, though. When I was on exchanges with Hermana Solis back in El Olivar last Friday, we were walking through her area when we saw some people staring at us from the second floor of a house. Hermana Solis decided we should contact them. They are super nice and want to hear more about the Gospel. We asked why they were staring at us and they said it was because of my hair!  So maybe I can use my blonde hair to help us contact people...we'll see!

Anyways, lots of really fun stuff for Halloween! I totally made decorations and I am going to eat lots of candy for Halloween. Hermana Larsen and I decided that we're going to swich our nametags and be each other for part of the day Halloween. It will be fun!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Example, Balloon Animals and Halloween Decorations

Riquel and her son, Paulo. What a cutie!
Yesterday, I learned how the little things that we say and do can affect the life of another. Sometimes, we don't know who is watching us and studying the quality of our lives in order to learn how to change their own lives. The young adults in this ward are amazing, and without realizing it, we have helped more than one of them want to come back to church, live more righteously, and even serve their own missions. It has been a great experience to work with the young adults and learn from them as well, because they are so strong in their families and have amazing testimonies. Even when we don't think we're really making a difference, people are taking note of what we say and how happy we are, and this example can help them want to change their lives for the better.

This week has been pretty routine. One fun thing is that we were able to give some service for Riquel for her son Paulo's birthday. He's turning one, which here in Peru is a huge deal. They do lots of over-the-top stuff for a child's first birthday. Anyway, we helped clean and decorate and sala for the party. She didn't have a lot of stuff, but my parents had sent me a package in the MTC that contained some balloons and instructions on how to tie different animals out of the balloons. So our district made a bunch of balloon animals for the party. It was super fun!

Just trying to bring a little
"Halloween spirit" to Peru
I made some Halloween decorations for our garage too, and I bought some candy at Tottus! Growing up, my Mom always decorated the house with festive Halloween decorations and I realized I really wanted to have something festive up here! It's a work in progress, but little by little we'll be ready for the holiday.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Noche Misional y Servicio con un Machete

At the Noche Misional: Jynette and Melanie are twins who
are recent converts, and between them is
their friend (and our investigator) Nichole.

During this past week, we were able to have a Noche Misional (Missionary Night), and about 40 members, menos activos (less active member), and investigators came. It was a great experience, and I think everyone had a good time. We are super grateful for the help we had from our ward mission leader and other members in the ward to make it really great. This ward is amazing!

At the Noche Misional: On the left is Sol, a recent convert,
 and Sharon, an amazing member who comes with us
 all the time and is preparing to serve her own mission
General Conference was great this past weekend, but listening to it in Spanish was definitely an experience! It was really hard in parts to know what was going on sometimes, but overall I was able to understand most of it, and I took some really good notes! I totally sang the hymns in English, though! In order to watch on Saturday, we went to a ward building in the zone leader's area of San Diego, and on Sunday we went to our ward building. Hermana Larsen and I went down in to the offices during the last session and watched it on the computer in English! It was really nice to listen in English and have to try so hard to understand, and just enjoy it. I loved the talks by Pres. Uchtdorf and Nelson!

Here, it is now warming up a little bit, and there are some days I can go out without my jacket! It's nice. Hermana Larsen and I decided that we're going to make some Halloween decorations for our apartment! This morning I made a little ghost and put it on our wall -- ha ha!

Pulling weeds around Hermana Carmen's patio.
This past week, we had three less active families that we wanted to focus on. We had looked at our list of ward members, prayed, and then chosen three families that we didn't know who they were, but that we wanted to visit. Our goal is to activate each one of these families, and help them feel welcomed back into the Church. We were able to contact each one of the families during the week, and even find some new investigators through them. This was a great experience for me in trusting in the Holy Ghost to guide us to where we need to be, and who we need to visit.
Trimming, raking, and gathering debris
 in Hermana Carmen's yard!
Using a machete is a lot harder than it looks!
Don't try this at home.

Our District also performed some service from Hermana Carmen, who lives in Shangri-La with her daughter and granddaughter. We had passed by her house before and we are trying to reactivate her daughter and granddaughter. Her family has a little money, so she owns a hill and she also has a little restaurant inside her home. Her house reminds me of the United States a little bit because she has a yard and a patio. 

No one here has a yard and a patio! 
Anyway, we helped her clear out lots of weeds, trim her trees, and remove some bushes.