Sunday, December 29, 2013

Following Christ Leads To Eternal Bliss

Hi Family and Friends!           (From email of 12-16-13)

We had another really great week here! Okay I just read the weekly email from President Jenkins, and I have the most exciting news to tell you!!! WE ARE HAVING A MEETING WITH ELDER JEFFREY R. HOLLAND!!!!!! Ahhhhhh I am SO excited! If I chose favorites, he would definitely be one of mine! :) On January 11th all the missionaries from the Mesa, Gilbert, and Scottsdale missions are coming together for a meeting with him! What a special opportunity!

We stayed very busy this week, so that was fun. On Tuesday we had a temple excursion. We went through a session with half of the mission and with President and Sister Jenkins. It was such a cool experience. It was so beautiful seeing all the missionaries greeting each other in the Celestial room. It really gave me a vision of what a joyful reunion it will be to see all of us reunited together in the Celestial kingdom. I absolutely love the temple. One of the things I am looking forward to after my mission is being able to attend the temple more frequently. We are so blessed here in Mesa though. How many missionaries get to go through the temple with half of their mission? Best mission in the world.

Mission Christmas Party
On Wednesday we had a Christmas party! And oh my it was so fun! Who knew missionaries had parties? I didn't. But it was such an enjoyable experience. We started off playing games (I guess there are some really rich members in the area so they were even giving money out to the people who won. It was kind of weird. But cool. I was so close to winning $20 haha). Then we had a yummy steak lunch, decorated cookies, did some awesome service projects, ate yummy dessert, listened to this cute family play hand bells. I don't know if you have ever heard of Reflections of Christ before? (If you haven't you should check it out. It's awesome pictures of representations of Christ's life, and there is a music album that goes along with it). But anyways, Freddy Ashby and Clyde Bonham, the people who made the Reflections of Christ, they also perform with Alex Boye, did a private concert for us. They are AMAZING. So beautiful. It brought such a strong spirit. It really made me miss being able to just play the piano and sing. But it was such a wonderful opportunity! We had all the mission gathered together to just celebrate and spend some Christmas time with our mission "family" here in Mesa. On Thursday we had a week 3 follow-up training meeting for the new missionaries. Hna Groll got her iPad so she's really excited about that. I hope I am doing a good job training her. I want her to be confident in her abilities and to feel more comfortable with the language. She's such a sweet person. I hope I get another transfer with her! 
Making Christmas cookies with Hna. Groll

Mexico keeps stealing our investigators!
We didn't have a ton of time in our area, but we were able to make our goal of 9 member present lessons this week! We are really working hard on getting a member out with us every hour. It is hard, but we are trying our best! The members are so sweet to us here. They are very busy so it is a big sacrifice for them. We contacted a member referral this week, and they were so prepared! Their names are Augusto and Laura. They are super receptive to the message, and said that they would get baptized if they receive an answer that it is true. They are a super cute couple probably in their 60s. But of course, they are leaving for Mexico for a month. Mexico always steals our investigators....

Planning a “white” Christmas
Marcos is all set for getting baptized on Saturday at 11 am! We are so excited for this! Even though we are loving the 75* weather (yes it warmed back up this week and we love it), we will still be able to have a "white" Christmas! He is really excited for his baptism too. His mom, Angela, came out to teach with us once this week and she did a great job! I think it really helped strengthen her testimony too. I don't know if you have ever heard of Herbalife or Herbalite or something like that but it is this weight loss program that's super popular in the Latino population. Anyways, Angela sells it so people always come to her house for their meals. We were over there, and her neighbor comes over for his meal and starts asking us a bunch of questions. He was asking really tough questions, and it was almost like bible-bashing but not. I was trying to be really humble in my responses and not cause contention. I think that he could actually have really good potential if he allowed us to share our message with him because we really do have such great answers to his questions! (He did chastise me pretty good though... I didn't have my Bible with me because I didn't have room in my purse and it can be heavy, but I had it on my iPad. Then he told me that Christ told us to take up our cross daily and that Christ's cross weighs a lot more than my Bible. So now, I am trying to always have my Bible with me haha). Angela also let us try her weight-loss aloe, tea, and shakes. They were pretty good! 

Manuel blessed the sacrament for the first time!
Saturdays are pretty hard because it seems like no one is home. But we have been doing this thing the past couple weeks were we bake cookies and give them to our investigators to invite them to church. We have had a hard time getting investigators to church, so we are trying to get creative. We are having lessons, but they always say they are too busy to come to church. I guess we need to do a better job at explaining the importance of it. Speaking of church, Manuel came to church again this week! Yay! And he blessed the sacrament for the first time! I was so proud of him! He is really trying to make a good effort to stay active in the church. We took him out teaching with us last night, and afterwards he called us. He said," thanks so much for taking me! I loved that so much! I love Mormons! I love the church! I love being able to share my testimony because it makes my faith so much stronger! Thank you so much!" (not exactly, but more or less haha). He did a great job too. We were just talking like get to know you, and he just brought up the gospel and how it has blessed him and shared such a powerful testimony. It was such a special experience for me. 
Hnas. Haynes and Groll at church

Potential Christmas plans
Can you believe Christmas is coming up so soon? I will be able to skype you! I will make a 15-20min phone call or skype to both dad's and mom's house. I am so excited to talk with you again! I miss you tons! We don't really know what our plans are yet, but a drunk man invited us over for Christmas eve and Christmas, so maybe we will do that. It was awesome. He gave us tamales. We met the whole family too. (don't worry, the elders had been teaching him and all his family were there and sober). His mom actually is a cook and janitor at juvi and she was telling me all about it. It was super interesting.  
I have really chubby cheeks in this picture.... But yes that is an entire cow's head. Yummy. (they love to eat cabeza, or head, here. Luckily I haven't had to try it yet!)
We have to get filtered water here because the tap is just so gross. So filling up our jugs.

Words of Christ lead to eternal bliss

But yes, that was more or less my week. It was a very good week! I absolutely love being here. I just can't believe how fast time is going. We only have a few more weeks of the transfer... Something I have really been thinking about this week is how I can become a better servant for the Lord and how I can more closely follow Christ and develop His attributes. Sometimes I feel like I am a long ways away from my goal. But I have been trying to really evaluate myself and see in what ways I need to change. I just want to be more obedient, more humble, more patient, more selfless, etc. (I need a lot of work in all of those areas! haha) But in my study this morning, I found a verse that I really liked. It is Alma 37:44-46. It is relating following the Liahona to how we follow Christ. It says, "For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land. O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way... The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever." I know that as we diligently strive to study and live the words of Christ, that all will work out. We will have peace in this life, and we will be able to reach eternal bliss! (and who does not want to live in bliss forever??) I just love studying the scriptures and the words of the prophets every day. I always learn so much and am filled!

I love you all so much and I am so grateful for all of your love and support! Hope you have a great week getting ready for Christmas! 

What I see every night!
Temple Lights
More Temple Lights
Con mucho amor,

Hermana Haynes

Sunday, December 22, 2013

He Said All of The Mormons Are Happy

Hello again family and friends! (From email of 12-9-13)

We had such a great week this week! It was amazing! We haven't had much time in our area this week because of Christmas Lights, but we were able to get 8 member presents. Which is super good, even for not a Christmas Lights week. The zone leaders were freaking out they were so proud of our work! They even facetimed us to tell us good job! So we are hoping to have another awesome week like that this week! We had ZTMs this week and the zone leaders really are trying to push us to have a member with us every hour when we are out in the field, so we are trying to reach that goal, because miracles really do happen when we have the members with us! It is so nice to have someone to instantly fellowship them and give them a friendly face to see at church. So we are really happy with how that is turning out! We sent around a little signup sheet in RS yesterday to have the sisters sign up to go out with us and a few of them signed up! We also have been receiving lots of referrals from the Christmas Lights, so hopefully lots of new investigators coming up! (If we ever have time to contact them or can find them home!) But we are really excited. This area is so full of such great potential. We don't have a ton of progressing investigators right now, but we have a lot of people that have great potential!

They haven't been to church in years, but they want to come back.
We were able to meet Yuleni's husband Javier this week, and they both seem pretty interested. We taught him about the Restoration and he liked it. They weren't able to come to church though. We didn't have any investigators at church this week, but we did have some huge miracles! Manuel came to church this week! That made me so happy! And Adriana and Fredrico did too! They are less active members that we have been visiting for a couple of months. They haven't come to church in years, but have been wanting to come back, but have been nervous. They finally committed to doing it and they stayed for all three hours! And the Uribe Family, they didn't come to church because they had work, but they came to the Christmas Devotional last night! And one of their kids, Madia, she is 11 and wants to get baptized and has been reading the Book of Mormon every night for 2 weeks. Holy cow, right?? We just hope their parents get a little more excited about coming back to church. They weren't members for very long before they became less active, so they still have a lot to learn about the gospel. Their littlest girl, Paulita is so adorable. She always gives us these little paper stars and just says the cutest stuff. And the little boy Donato is adorable also. I love that family!

I spoke in church about less active members needing to feel the love of the members
Speaking of church, I gave another talk in Sacrament meeting yesterday. I was pumped because it was such an opposite topic. I spoke on Elder Uchtdorf's talk from General Conference, "Come, Join With Us" and was asked to put an emphasis on the reactivation of less active members. Such a great topic, right??? I told them how the less active members need to feel their love and support, and how we need to work together to show Christ like love to these people who need our friendship. I reviewed Elder Uchtdorf's talk about why people leave the church and how we can help them see things from a different perspective.  I also reminded them about Elder Ballard's commitment to inviting someone before Christmas. I hope it touched their hearts and will help them lose their fear to reach out to these awesome people. 

Working on Marcos' baptism date
Marcos is still on board to get baptized, but we aren't sure about what date though. We were going to do it on the 21st but the stake center is reserved, so we moved it to the 20th, but it turns out that's when the branch's Christmas party is. So we will have to figure that out. But we are super excited! Our goal is 2 baptisms this month, and we are really hoping to reach that. Really the only other person that could be baptized in December is Hecor (I don't know if I have told you about him...) He comes with his brother every week for months and we have been teaching him lately, but he just doesn't really have that great of a desire to have the gospel in his life. He just kind of sees all things of God as good so why not go to any church. We are really praying that his heart will be softened and that he will be able to feel the Spirit testify the truth to him. 

Meeting people from all over
Christmas Lights is such a great experience too. It has been COLD this week! Okay, laugh at me, but after being used to 120* weather, 45* feels freezing. I know it’s not that bad, but it feels cold - especially when you just stand there for 2 hours. But it is so great. They have different little nativity like stations or reflection pools or shepherd's camps, etc., and we are just stationed at one each night or we roam. We just talk to all that we can. We try and get referrals, invite people to learn more, and explain the importance of Christmas to us. We seriously get to meet the coolest people! The other day I met people from Kenya and it really made me miss Philip! Yesterday we met 2 sisters, Carla and Carlie. Carla is the only member in her family and I think is trying to get her sister introduced to the gospel. She is trying so hard to be active in the gospel and is so happy to be a part of it, but I guess her family is really against it. We had an awesome experience talking with her.

One night we were able to get 4 referrals! These Mexicans walked past and were like, “oh it’s the hermanas!” And so I asked them what ward they were in, and they were like, “no we aren't members!” So, of course I was like, "you aren't Mormons? Why not? You should be!" The one who knew that we were missionaries has a daughter that's a member, and he wasn't interested in learning more, but 2 of the people he was with were!

He couldn't even imagine peace
We also had another huge miracle with this guy named Ty. This member just came up to us with Ty and said that he just met Ty and it sounded like he wanted to make some changes in his life. Ty told us about how he has been in and out of jail, etc. and just really was done with all that and wanted to leave it all behind. He just walked past the temple lights and just knew that he needed the gospel in his life. He said all of the Mormons are happy and that we have so many churches in the area, and that he just wanted to be a part of it. When we told him he could find peace in his life, he said he couldn't even imagine that. We asked him if he had any questions for us, he just said that he wanted us to teach him and that he wanted to start reading the Book of Mormon. It was such a miracle. We have been able to meet so many cool people with so many backgrounds. We have been able to plant a lot of seeds as well. It is such a blessing to be able to serve here in this mission! 

This upcoming week is going to be super busy! We have a Temple Excursion tomorrow (don't really know what that means, but I think it may just be a temple session), a mission Christmas Activity on Wednesday, and a follow up training meeting for Hna Groll on Thursday, plus Christmas lights. So it will be a busy week! I think we have about 9 hours in our area this week... But we are going to work hard and I know that Heavenly Father will help us to make the limited time we do have as productive as possible. 

I love being Mexican!
I just have to let you know HOW HAPPY I AM. It is ridiculous. I can't even tell you. I am just so happy. I love my mission so much. I just feel overwhelmed by how blessed I am. God knows me so well, He knew exactly where I need to go. Seriously though, I get to talk with so many amazing people every single day. I get to learn and become part of such a fun culture. I love being Mexican. It's the best. (Totally started shopping at the Mexican grocery store even. It is awesome. I wish we had more Mexican grocery stores in Seattle.) Get to eat amazing new foods all the time. I have such a great companion. I get to speak Spanish. I GET TO SHARE THE GOSPEL. I get to change who I am and become more like Christ. I can't even begin to describe how much this mission has changed me. I am so grateful for it. I just have such a greater appreciation for everything and see the world in a different way. I am learning so many new things that will help me for the rest of my life. I just am really, really happy. But I do miss you tons! I know without a doubt that Jesus Christ is the head of this Church. I know that He listens to our prayers and if we have faith, we can accomplish all things with His help. He gives us the strength to do things that we can't do on our own. With Him, with faith, patience and diligence, nothing is impossible. I was reading Alma 32 this week about planting the seed of faith, and something that stuck out to me was how it really hit the points of faith, patience and diligence in being able to produce fruit from our seeds of faith. We have to hold strong and give our all to the Lord. I am trying so hard, but I know I have even more to give. I have so many faults and make so many mistakes, but I am trying to do better every day. I have a long ways to go, but I will get there someday! :)

I love you all and just feel so blessed to have the greatest family and friends. Thanks for all that you do for me and for all of your prayers. It really means the world to know that I have so many people praying for me every day. Know that I am praying for you too! And please pray that we will have more less active members and investigators come to church! That would be such a miracle! I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!
Hna. Groll, Natalie and the tree.

Thanks for the package Mom!

We didn't have a star, so we decided to put up the true light of the world instead ) and yes, that is my skirt acting as the honorary tree skirt. Looks pretty good, huh

Con mucho amor,

Hermana Haynes

Sunday, December 15, 2013

How Faith In Jesus Christ Works

Hi Family!                     (From email of 12-2-13)

It is so nice to hear from you! Thanks for all being so good about writing me! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! It sounds like you all had a great time. I can't help to but to miss you a little bit more during the holiday season because the best part of the holidays is family. (especially because I have the best one). But I will be home for next Christmas! Want to know something really weird?? I actually go home a year from today...... I don't know how to feel about that... Just be sure to really enjoy the holidays for me this season!

We had a great Thanksgiving though! We actually had 2 dinners. We were invited over for the first dinner at 3, but it didn't really start until 4:30 actually because everyone got there late. So we helped get things ready and just kind of awkwardly stood around haha... And then we ran over to the other dinner at 5. We were STUFFED. The food was actually traditional American food. They did add sopa fria which is pasta salad with bananas and raisins and then a salsa. Nnot really sure what the salsa was for though. It was very fun though!
Elder Larson broke the spatula serving the pie. I don't remember why, but it was super funny in the moment!

Elers Larson and Elder Celis-Gomez, our district leader
 We weren't allowed to do anything on Thanksgiving unless we were invited to, so we had some extra studying hours that day. We also helped Sna. Silva do some more quincinera prep that morning and she made us breakfast. Haha she is such a firecracker it is awesome. She always has all sorts of crazy stories to tell us. Lupes's quincinera is going to be HUGE. I really want to go! 

 Family Night With the Silva Family
We seemed to have a lot of our teaching appointments cancel on us this week. It was also hard to find people home, which made for a bit of a slow week. But I guess that's what to expect during a holiday week. Last Monday we had another Noche de Hogar with the Silva family. It is really a miracle to be able to get the whole family to gather and learn about the gospel together so I am really happy that could happen. I just wish you could meet this family. They would make you laugh. Hno Silva is such a little smart alec haha. Whenever I ask him a question about the gospel he goes sorry I am busy right now, I can't hear you, etc. And he likes to sing and dance to the Beatles. He is like this 70 year old man and it is awesome. I love them.

A New Investigator
Oh we got this awesome new investigator this week! Her name is Helena. The elders said they stopped by once before and she seemed to have good potential, so we stopped by and started teaching her. She has a husband, and 2 kids but we haven't met her husband yet. She is really sweet, but a bit quiet. To be honest, I am not really sure why she let us start teaching her or why she is listening to the lessons, but she is and she is reading the Book of Mormon too! We taught the Restoration to her and she accepted it really well and then kept her commitment to read the introduction. She seems really open to the restored gospel too so I am really excited to see where this will go! I have a good feeling about it :) It just might be hard to get them to church because Sunday is the only day they both have off so they do all the errands that day. 

A Miracle for Marcus
On Saturday we had another miracle! Do you remember Marcus? The 10 year old boy we taught with Miguel? His mom, Angela is a member that is coming back to church. She didn't want him to get baptized until he was older, but she has changed her mind and decided to allow him. So we were able to set a baptismal date with him on Saturday! We set it for December 21st. So it is going to be such a great Christmas present. We asked him what it meant to him to be baptized and he said that it was a way to get closer to God and to be cleansed from all the bad things that we do. His mom was so impressed by his answer. It really meant a lot to her and showed her that he really did understand this decision that he was making to be baptized. I also gave him the kids version of the Book of Mormon on Saturday, and at church yesterday he told me he had already read 13 chapters! He is such a great kid. Him and Miguel are best friends now and Karen and Angela have become really good friends too. 
Getting ready for the lights to turn on!

Talking to Visitors at the Temple Christmas Lights
Christmas lights started on Friday and it has been such a great experience. We get to talk to soo many people every day! I think my favorite experience so far was yesterday we met a bunch of people from China. There was one couple who was there with their member friend. The member had moved from China a few years ago and had found the gospel, and really wanted us to share with them. She pulled us over and asked us to give them a little tour and teach them a little bit. So we got to take them around and teach them about the Christmas story and about why Christ is so important to us. It was such a neat experience. They were such nice, happy, friendly people. I had never taught anyone that doesn't know about Christ and it just made me so happy that I could teach these people something of such great importance. It just breaks my heart that they don't have the gospel in their lives! I hope that somehow they will be able to accept the gospel.

All the Spanish People Are So Friendly!
I also have been realizing just how much I love the Spanish people. They are so great. I think speaking Spanish is the absolute best. At Christmas lights, (almost) all the Spanish speakers are so friendly and are happy to talk to us. We have met people from all around the world - Guatemala (this awesome guy who actually agreed to have the missionaries call him!), Russia, China, Mexico, Venezuela, France (this probably 60 year old lady that wants Ben to write her in French hahaha She is a member). But yes, it is just a really great experience. It has been hard to find the balance between not being a pushy missionary versus just being a host/tour guide. We don't want to make people feel uncomfortable, but we want to fulfill our purpose also. So hopefully we will get better at that! But it was a great week! I can't believe how fast time is going! It is almost Christmas! Fun! 

How Faith In Christ Works
This week I have been thinking a lot about faith. Every time before Christ healed someone, he always asked them if they had faith to be healed. I am not sure why but that has been really interesting to me. How we have to believe that He can heal us or cleanse us. We have to show that to Him and be firm in our beliefs. I read this great talk today called, "Wilt Thou Be Healed" (Pres Jenkins has invited us to read a conference talk every day this transfer). I just love how much Christ has done for us and how he has no greater desire than to help us. This morning, as I was reading in Alma 31 I was really impressed by Alma's prayer of faith to help his brethren who were lost. He prayed with such faith and sincerity that it all came to pass. It made me realize how great of a power there is in a prayer of faith. How we really can bring miracles about with our faith. Faith truly is a power in our lives that we can use to bring about the will of God. It really made me want to grow my faith and especially be more sincere and diligent in supplicating to my Heavenly Father in faith.

I love you all so much and truly feel SO blessed to have you as my family! I wish you could all understand how much I love you! I hope you have a wonderful week! Know that you are always in my prayers! Stay safe, healthy, and happy! Also please keep me in your prayers.. I got a lovely cold and so pray for me to get healthy quick :) Gotta love being congeste, and my voice is dying. I think Hna Groll is scared that my voice will go out and she will have to teach all the lessons on her own haha. Also, I LOVE Hermana Groll. We get along so well, and we have very similar personality types. It is so fun working with her!
Hna. Groll and me waiting for  Temple Christmas Lights to come on!

Con amor,

Hermana Haynes

Sunday, December 8, 2013

He's Reading the Book of Mormon.

Hi  Family!!   (from email of 11-25-13)

Another week just flew right by. I can't believe how fast time is going... Almost my six month mark. Ahhh it breaks my heart. Miss you to death, but I never want to leave at the same time.... 

A new companion
We had transfers this week and I have such a wonderful new companion! She just got here from the Mexico MTC. Her name is Hermana Groll. She is from Preston, Idaho and just graduated from high school in May. She is super sweet and really fun to work with. This is her first time away from home so I feel like her mama. It's hard teaching someone a new language that I still don't know very well, but I know that God will bless us. He has blessed me so much with the language so that I would be able to train right away, and I am very grateful for that.
My new companion, Hna. Groll and my new hair cut.  Got it trimmed.
We get our investigators back! 
So with the area changes, we got back all the area that we gave away last transfer. It's a bit obnoxious giving and taking and sharing all the investigators again because it's hard to know exactly where they are in their progress, but God always has a reason for the things that He does. So we have Karen, Manuel, Angela/Marcos/Juana, Maria and Carlso and a bunch of other people back. It's super fun to be seeing them again. I had to say goodbye to Ana and Juan, so that was sad, but the Elders will take good care of them. It's always a bit hard to get back into the swing of things and know exactly where and how to be using our time, but we are trying our best. I really just want to be exactly where the Lord wants me to be and visiting exactly who He wants me to visit and saying exactly what He wants me to say, but sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what that is. But I just do my best and go forward with faith.

I feel like after making so many mistakes as a trainer last time around, I know how to do it much better this time. I feel bad for Hna Maughan who had to be my guinea pig... I really had no idea what I was doing haha. I still don't, but I know a little bit better. Hermana Groll is so great though. We get along very well. She really wants to work hard to I really appreciate it. President Jenkins pulled me aside and said that I was handpicked to be her trainer because I would be able to help her with her Spanish. I thought that was cool. I need to speak more Spanish in the apartment and things. I am getting into bad habits haha. 
Trainers and trainees
Me and the other trainers
He says he is Catholic
On Hermana Groll's first day, the Relief Society president, Hermana Santos asked us if we could accompany her. She made muffins and hand outs to deliver to all of the women that were on our progress records! It was such a great experience. It was so nice of her to spend her time helping these people. She went to a lesson with us with Tito and Carmen. It went well. I think there is some potential there with Tito, but as for now he says he is Catholic, but he listens to our message! I love the less active members because they ALWAYS live with someone that's not a member. We have found soooo many people to teach that way! We met some more less active members this week. Some of them seem pretty excited about coming back. Hopefully they can find the courage to do it soon. We hope to be able to teach the people that they live with as well. 

Their house burnt down 2 years ago
We had a great lesson with the Familia Uribe. They finally opened up to us! We taught the Restoration, and it went so well. They opened up and told us that their house burnt down 2 years ago and how hard that has been on them. At the end of the lesson, I asked Hna Uribe if she ever had an experience where she felt the Spirit. She then told us about when her nephew died, how hard it was, but she prayed and just could feel how strongly God loved her and was there for her. She, all the kids and, we cried during the story. It was a great Spirit there. Their Book of Mormons all burnt in the fire too, so they didn't have any. We gave each of them their own and they were really excited to read it! The little girl, Mia, kept giving us her stickers and little things she made with paper. It was so cute. They cancelled the cita we had with them yesterday, but we will be able to see them soon.

It rained this week! Like really rained! It was like we were living in Seattle for 3 days! I LOVED IT. It made me feel at home. It has really gotten cold this week. I will need those clothes soon Mom... especially with Christmas Lights starting soon! Christmas Lights start on Friday and I am so excited! We will be working it for 2 hours every day until January. So we really are not going to have much time in our area at all. It will be interesting to see how it works out, but God always finds a way to take care of things. 

We've never had a lesson with him, but he was reading the Book of Mormon!
I don't know if I ever told you about Enrique, I think I did. So look up that email. t was about 8:55 last night, and we decided to knock one last door before we went home. Enrique lives close by, and I just felt like we should go check up on him. So we did, and he answered! Not only that, but he has been reading the Book of Mormon! We never even had an official lesson with him, and no one has visited him for 6 weeks, but he has been reading! We never were able to set a firm appt with him before because he never knew his work schedule before, but we did this time! Tonight! I am super excited and really hoping it goes well. 
A family in our branch.
Sorry I feel like this email is kind of lame, but I don't really know what else to write. I miss you all so much! It is weird to be spending the holiday season away from you! We aren't really allowed to do anything on Thanksgiving unless people invite us to, so it will probably be a pretty low key day staying in the apartment. We do have invitations to a Thanksgiving dinner though, so that will be fun! I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving and know how grateful I am for all of you! 

Alma's Positivity
Something that I have been thinking about lately is how God has created individual plans for our lives. He has created the specific experiences that we need to teach us and help us to qualify for salvation. Everything happens for a reason and He is truly involved in the details. In my personal study today, I was reading Alma 26. I love Ammon's gratitude and example of positivity. Although they suffered so much, he did not dwell on that. He focused on the miracles that God gave him every day. He focused on the mercy and goodness of God and the love and relationships he was able to create. I know that because of Jesus Christ, we can always have hope. He overcame all, so that now we can overcome all as well. There is nothing that we have to face that we cannot come off conqueror. I am so grateful for that knowledge and the hope that it gives me to keep going forward with a smile on my face every single day. I love you all so much!
In the area where we work.
Con amor,

Hermana Haynes

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Strengthening Testimonies of Jesus Christ

Hi Family!!!       (From email of 11-18-13)

Another week done. Time just flies by and it breaks my heart! I can't believe this transfer is already ending. So... Transfer news!!! I am.... being switched to English work! Just kidding... I am staying in Liahona 3rd branch! YAY!!! Seriously I never want to leave this branch. Ever. It has been progressing so well lately. The members are making so many improvements and it’s so great to see. And guess what! I am training again! I am super excited! I am sad to have to leave Hna. Demille though. She will be serving in the Liahona 1st branch. I've lived with her my whole mission and she has grown to be one of my best friends so I am super sad for her to leave. I am super excited though. I love this area so much and I am really excited to train. It's always so fun to work with new missionaries because they are so excited to be out in the field and have such great enthusiasm for the work!

Lots of miracles!
So this week, we spent a lot of time passing out invitations to the turkey dinner and meeting with all of the less active members in the branch. We had a lot of miracles! I can't even tell you! I think I officially know probably about 90% of the people in the branch now. It feels so good to really know and love the members that I work with. They are the greatest people. I feel so blessed to be serving here. We found a lot of potentials while visiting the less active members because they almost all have part member families. Yesterday we went and met a less active sister for the first time (Carmen). Her husband(?) Tito sat in on the lesson and had lots of questions and wants to learn more! We set up a return appointment with them on Wednesday. I really just have such a passion for working with these less active members. I'm not sure why. It just feels really good to help those people who have already made covenants with the Lord. It feels really good to strengthen the branch in the way that it really needs strengthening right now. And when they have nonmember family living with them, it is killing 2 birds with one stone! Reactivating and teaching investigators! I just think of John and Karen and how well that worked out for them! The Uribe family has been a little harder to get a hold of, but we had 2 lessons with them this week. 

Softening hears and preparing for a quincinera.
Monday was a really, really great day. We had a noche de hogar with Lupe’s! It was a miracle! They all gathered together and listened to our lesson. Seriously, it is so hard to get them all in the same room, let alone to listen to us. But they did and there was a great spirit there. Lupe's mom, heart has really been softening lately. She has been very less active for a very long time and has not had much desire to go back. We have been going over a lot doing service with her to get things ready for Lupe's huge quincinera in March and ever since Lupe's baptism she has been starting to be a little more receptive to our messages. I know it will take lots of time and work, but I know that she will find her place again. She has such a good heart and the only thing she wants to do is be a good mom. She has just gotten a little lost along the way. She is hilarious though. She loves to make fun of our accents and imitate us haha.

 We sang together
After that, we went and visited the Uribe family and it went really well. Then after, we went to a member's house across the street that we thought were less active, but they aren't. The cute little grandma let us in with a big hug and immediately went to the kitchen and made yummy Mexican hot chocolate and cookies for us. The member we visited is the branch organist and he LOVES music. We told him we could sing, so we sang a song with them while he played the piano and he was so happy. His parents live with him and they are the cutest little mexican grandparents in the entire world. (Me: Soy soprano! Hna Maughan: Soy alto! Cute Grandpa: Soy David!) I just really liked that night so I thought I would tell you about it haha.

Fellow shipping and turkey dinner.
The Turkey Dinner went SOOO well! We had so many miracles! This cute little less active sister we invited showed up. She was so nervous because she didn't know anyone, so she waited for us to get there in the car, and when she walked in a sister in the branch welcomed her right away and fellowshipped her so well. We had a really good number of less active members and nonmembers there. Especially people that had hadn't come in a long time. It was great.

Afterwards, we packed up all the leftovers and delivered them to all of the members that didn't come. It was a really fun experience. One of the members of our branch presidency (Hno. Tolman) is so passionate about helping these less active members. He really ran the show and, unfortunately, was left with a big responsibility of handing out most of the dinners. I am so grateful for his dedicated service though. 

 Recognizing a dream and having a change of heart
Juan and Ana are doing SO well. I can't even tell you. Their whole family is progressing wonderfully. Even their kids are really interested. I was a bit worried for Ana because she hadn't been as into it as Juan, and she didn't really feel like she was getting answers to her prayers. But on Friday we had such a big miracle. We took them to the visitor's center, and there is just such a great Spirit at that place. We took them through a great exhibit about God's plan for families, took them to a little corner about prophets and listened to President Monson's testimony, then we ended at the Christus statue. When we sat down at the Christus, Adriana's face just changed. She told us that she had seen something that looked so much like the Christus with the background of the stars behind it in a dream that she remembers so clearly. When we listened to the presentation, you could just see on her face how strongly she was feeling the Spirit. Afterwards, when we talked about it, she wept and felt like she received an answer to her prayers. It was such a beautiful experience. The Spirit was so strong. They have already come to church for 4 weeks. We need to talk to them about marriage still, but I think they will accept it easily. We are trying to get them to agree to a baptismal date, but they think that they don't know enough. I know they will though, in the Lord's time. They are such a great family!

Another miracle!
Also on Friday we had another miracle! We have this investigator named Manolo who loves learning but always randomly goes to Mexico for long periods of time and we never know when he is coming back. He called us and said he and his girlfriend (Emilia) wanted to meet with us! Emilia and her family have been taking the lessons in Mexico and have a baptismal date set for December. Manolo just loves Emilia so much and is so excited to learn and get baptized because he wants to marry her in the temple for eternity! He said this would be the last weekend in Mexico, but if it is not, we will be able to teach him via Skype. I just hope that he really gains a testimony of the gospel, though, instead of rushing it for his girlfriend. We will make sure he is really keeping his commitments and truly developing a testimony.

They are changing the area boundaries again because we will only have 2 sets of missionaries in the branch again. I will be covering the north area and the elders the south, so I might lose both Ana & Juan's family and Manolo. I really don't know yet. I will get the map on Wednesday. It is a bit annoying transferring all these people back and forth all the time. I will probably be getting a lot of people back that I gave to the Elders last transfer. 

The Lord has everything planned to give us true and lasting happiness and joy.
I just want you to know how much I love the Lord. I have really been impressed lately with how perfect His plan is. He is so aware of every single one of His children, and has a plan for each one of our lives. If we trust Him, everything will work out. He is in the very little details of our lives. He has everything planned to give us true, lasting happiness and joy. I have been studying lately the missions of Alma and the sons of Mosiah in the Book of Alma, and I am just so impressed by them. All the success that they had was because of their dedication to the Lord. They trusted Him perfectly and worked so diligently. All that they ever wanted to do was to follow the guidance of the Spirit and serve and love the people around them. People were touched by their examples of sincere love and charity. I know that as we learn to love others like that, and as we learn to completely trust the Lord, He will direct our paths and make sure that all things work together for our good.

I love you all so much and feel so blessed to have such a supportive family as all of you! You are always in my prayers!


Hermana Haynes

Sunday, November 24, 2013

God Has a Really Good Plan For Our Lives

Hi family and friends!!       (11/11/13 email)

It's been a crazy, wonderful week. Lots of stuff going on over here. But learning and growing and loving every minute of it! It is really cool being able to see the Lord’s hand in your life helping shape me into the person that He knows I can become. I swear time is just getting faster and faster. I can't even believe it! 

Found a cute old man
Sooo what did we do this week.... This week we really focused on the less active members. It was great. We saw a lot of miracles. We have been working through the list trying to find those who haven't been contacted. We found this really cute old man named Claudio. He hasn't come to church in a long time, but when we found him he said that he know that God loved him because God had sent us to find him to bring back the lost sheep. It was the sweetest experience. You could just feel how much love Heavenly Father has for him. We are really excited to work more with them. It's hard though because everyone's work schedule is so crazy that it can be really hard to find people again. We just want to help this branch become stronger so badly. They are the sweetest people ever. I really just have such a strong, strong love for all of these people here. They have become such a part of who I am! 

We had an awesome correlation this week with our branch mission leader and members from the auxiliary presidencies. We started putting some ideas together to work on a branch mission plan. It is so cool to see the members catching the vision of the work of salvation! They are starting to learn how to all come together and build each other up.

Awkward (non)teaching experience
It's also hard to see people you love so much struggling with their testimonies. A few recent converts haven't been coming to church lately and it breaks my heart! I just want to help them so badly, but we are having a hard time figuring out what exactly the problem is. Praying hard for them! Manuel is doing really well. He came out to teach with us again this week. We had a former investigator that none of us had ever met before call us and set up an appointment with us. So we invited Manuel and he brought his whole family. It ended up being that man talking to us for over 30 mins basically trying to preach to us. It was the weirdest thing. He didn't even ask our names! Haha whenever we tried to speak he would just talk right over us. It was a bit frustrating haha. I just felt bad for Manuel and his family that they had to sit through that. 

Manuel’s efforts to keep the Sabbath Day holy
Manuel called us last night and asked us if we drink milk haha. We said yes and he told us he was dropping food off for us. We delivered milk, eggs, and frosted flakes! He was like missionaries work so hard and I just want to help them! We asked if there was anything we could do for him and he immediately said yes! He asked us to pray for him. They changed his work schedule so he has to work on Sundays again and he is super bummed about it. He has really been missing church and really wants to keep the Sabbath day holy. We are all praying for him and he said he would talk to his boss again today, please pray for him. It is soooooo important that he can keep coming to church! He has been really coming to all the activities though.

Juan and Ana are still just doing wonderfully. Their two older boys started listening to the lessons too! They have come to church for the past 3 weeks and said that they think it's true. They have so much faith, but they are nervous about trying to really figure out if it's right or not.

Sheep and going above and beyond the call of duty
We had exchanges on Friday with Sister Frishnecht. She is so sweet! It was really fun and a great, spiritual experience. We got to go to Yesenia's wedding with her. The wedding was great! We pretty much we're in the back the whole time preparing the food. Haha, Hna Maighan got to keep her hands stuck in a cooler that had a dead lamb in it for about an hour. I started off doing that, but a few seconds into it I'm pretty sure I grabbed an eyeball so I quit.  Then the next day was Karen and John’s wedding! Yay! It went so great. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. She got baptized! Almost the whole branch was there to support them. Haha there were so many people I couldn't even see her get baptized. It was such a special experience. John is a pretty reserved man, but at the reception he came up to me and thanked the missionaries for all that we have done to help his family. They are so special to me.

The furnace of affliction is good for you.
Well that's about it. Transfers are next week so I will find out on Saturday what is happening. I am pretty sure there will be some changes. I would love to be able to stay in this branch for a whole lot longer, but know that whatever happens, God has a really good plan for my life. Lately, I have just been really thinking about the experiences that He gives us to help is grow and refine ourselves. Sometimes the furnace of affliction is just the perfect refiner's fire to make us just a little bit closer to our divine potential. I am so grateful that I can have Jesus Christ as the anchor of my hope. Because of His Atonement, no matter what I go through or how many mistakes I make or how many flaws I have as a human being, I know that there is a way to overcome all of that. I am so grateful for that knowledge. I love you all so much! I miss you so much and just want you to know how grateful I am for every single one of you. My family is the most important thing to me!

Natalie and Hna. Demille

Love you bunches,
Hermana Haynes

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Gospel of Jesus Christ Changing Lives.

(From email of 11-4-2013)
Buenos dias familia y amigos!                                     

Como estan?? Espero que todo este bien con ustedes.Tuvimos una semana buena otra vez! No es una sopresa :) Just thought I would start off with a little espanol today. Haha but hi! How are you!

We all got iPad Minis.
We had another good week. I really have the hardest time remembering what we do with our time... We have SO many things that we do each week, sometimes it feels like we don't have any time in the field. We have an hour of personal study, companion study, language study, 12 weeks program for Hna Maughan, facebook, lunch, and 1.5 hrs to update records into our area book on our iPads everyday before we get out into the field. Plus district meetings, etc. These are all super important things though to help progress the work. This week the entire mission got iPad Minis! We already had them, but they are going to give us new ones soon with iOS7. So all the missionaries were pretty excited about that! They said soon the mission president, stake president, bishops, etc will all have access to our area books and planners. Isn't that so great? We are going to be able to work with the leadership so much more.

Last week we found a whole less active family that no one knew!
This week we really started working more focused on the less actives and recent converts. We decided we needed to filter through our investigators and only focus on the ones that are really going to progress (pretty much just Juan and Ana, and a few others - they are doing GREAT by the way!), and then focus all other time on the branch. We saw a lot of blessings doing that this week too. Last night we found a whole less active family that no one in the branch knew! The Uribe family! They got baptized 3 years ago and have 6 children. 2 of them are old enough to be baptized but aren't so we are really going to work with them! Hopefully prepare their children for baptism and prepare them for a temple sealing - eternal families! They are such a great family already and were really kind to us. I am so excited to work more with them.

The Relief Society and Priesthood are having a competition to unite the branch.
Yesterday we had this big meeting with the branch with all the leadership of the branch. We got together and the branch presidency talked about the statistics of the church - we have 1/3 people coming to Sacrament, etc. They talked about how General Conference focused so much on the rescue and how that really needs to be the focus of our ward. They talked about all the activities we have coming up before the end of the year and how we need to be focusing on reaching out to others and inviting and fellowshipping them. Then we went through every single person on the branch records - if anyone knew who they were, if anyone knew if their addresses and phone numbers were correct, if they actually were in the branch boundaries, etc... It was SOOOO great! They really want to get the records accurate so they can know who we actually have to work with. We knew a lot about the members and where they live and had a lot of new phone numbers, so we were able to help a TON. It is really nice to know that that information will not be lost now after we are transferred out of this area. It is so great to see the branch catching the vision of needing to help these people here in the branch. These past couple weeks they have really been focusing on Visiting and Home teaching. They have a competition between priesthood and RS that whoever gets higher percentages on their visits, the other auxiliary has to make them a dinner! (awesome idea from Hna Maughan!) A lot of them don't even know how to do their visits, so we are trying to work with the RS presidency to see how we can help teach people how to do that. They are trying to get everyone in the branch contacted soon, because on Nov 16th we are having a branch Thanksgiving dinner, and they are going to drop off a dinner for everyone who is less active! What a great idea! It makes me so excited to see us all uniting our efforts to really reach out to those who are in need. I just want all of these people to have the joy and blessings of living the gospel. I just want them to be happy and to be close to Christ! I know that this branch can really become strong. It will take a lot of work, sacrifice, time, and dedication, but it has SUCH great potential!

Manuel already sharing with others.
We took Manuel out to help us teach some lessons with us this week, and it was so great! He was just so excited about the gospel and all the blessings that it brought into his life. It was really cool, we took him to visit a less active family, and the dad from the less active family got super excited to help teach Manuel this new member, and just was bearing his testimony and teaching Manuel. The Spirit there was so great. We shared a powerful message about the Book of Mormon and how it is a protection in our lives. It was such a great lesson. The mother was crying by the end. And then, the next day... They came back to church! The dad said that his vacation from church was over! Yay! Haha at the end of our lesson, the dad told us to open our bags, and he poured in his kids halloween candy. It was so funny. Now we got a little bit of trick or treating too! Speaking of Halloween, we went to an English ward member's house and she had such a cute little Halloween dinner set up! We had green spaghetti and all this kind of stuff and she called it all kinds of cute names! We made some treats during lunch and dropped them off at the missionaries in our district, and then we spent the rest of the night at home studying. We weren't able to proselyte that day. 
We made little ghosts of each of the missionaries in our district to go with the Halloween treats!

Juan and Ana are reading the Book of Mormon.
Ana and Juan are doing really well! They came to the Visitor’s Center and watched the Joseph Smith movie and really liked it. We read 3 Nephi 11 with them this week,  and that was really powerful. They also came to all 3 hours of church yesterday, and 2/3 of their kids actually went to their classes! Ana is pretty quiet, but seems pretty interested. Juan is REALLY interested though. He always is so full of questions, but asks them out of sincere desire to know more, not out of a desire to deny it or confound us. He is really reading the Book of Mormon. Ana has been reading a little bit, and they have both been praying to find out if it is true. Ana said she has had a few dreams about the Book of Mormon too. They both said that they think it is true, but aren't 100% sure yet. They have such great potential. They are a really, really great family. At church yesterday the lesson was on the Law of Chastity. We haven't talked to them about that yet and they aren't married, so hopefully that went okay for them. Ana's 17 year old brother, Pablo has been learning too and seems pretty interested! He didn't go to church though. They have 5 kids and the 3 youngest are learning and liking it, but the 2 older boys always hide in their rooms and don't talk to us. 

Karen and John are actually getting married and baptized on this next Saturday. I think we should be able to go to it if we can find investigators to come! Karen asked me to speak at her baptism too, but I don't know if that is still happening or not. It would be better if a member did it. I am so happy for them though! They are such a changed family and will be such strength to this branch! 

Learning a lot from having two companions and going to the temple!
Being a trio is an adventure as always. It is really fun, but definitely a learning experience. I have been learning so much about how to have good relationships with people. This is great marriage prep! Hahaha. 

We get to go to the temple on Thursday! I am super excited! We also have a meeting on Wednesday for all the non-VC sisters because we are going to be helping outside at Christmas lights! Yay! I am so excited! On P-Days some of us sisters are have a choir practice because one day we are going to be doing the musical number for Christmas lights. I am excited! Speaking of that, Mom at some point in time (before Thanksgiving probably) if you could send me my peacoats and nice jackets/sweaters that would be nice. It is really starting to cool down and I think that if we are working outside at night for Christmas lights, I will probably be getting pretty cold. Maybe toss in a few pair of gloves? No rush on this though! 

Random side note, but I had dinner at a guy from my BYU ward's house this week! (Dallin Schnepf for all my BYU friends). Such a small world! 

Ways to grow my charity.
Well, I think that's all I got for you this week. I just want to end with the scripture in Matt 22:36-39. "Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." I have really been thinking about that lately. I have been trying to find ways that I can grow my charity and to increase my desire and ability to give selfless service. Sometimes I feel like I get so centered in my own world. But I am here to bless other's lives. I am here to help others and to strengthen and support them. That is why we are all here. I know that as we do that - as we really focus on other people more than ourselves, then we will be happier. It can be hard sometimes, but that is how true happiness comes. I also like to think about Christ and His example. He was so quick to forgive and so slow to offend. He gave so freely of Himself in every opportunity that He could. I want to be more like Him and I want to know Him better. I have been really trying to learn more about His life and to develop more faith in Him as my Savior and center my life more on Him specifically.

Well I love you all so much! And I miss you tons, especially as we are in this holiday season! But I would never trade this time for the world. I am so grateful to be here. I am so grateful for this opportunity to learn, grow, love, and serve. I hope you all have a great week!

Con mucho amor,

Hermana Natalie Haynes